Taliban blow up Pakistan girls school

Wednesday, December 23, 2009 - 10:46am

PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AFP) – The Taliban blew up a girls' school in Pakistan's Khyber district, where troops are fighting against militants in the tribal region bordering Afghanistan, an official said Wednesday.

Militants detonated explosives overnight at the government-run school in Bazgarah town, about 40 kilometres (25 miles) west of Peshawar, capital of the violence-plagued North West Frontier Province.

"The building had 21 rooms. All have been completely demolished," local administration chief Shafeerullah Wazir told AFP by telephone.

There were no casualties because the property was empty at the time.

"Taliban and their local allies are responsible. They are destroying educational institutions to avenge the military operation against their hideouts in the area," said Wazir.

"This was the ninth educational institution blown up in Khyber over the past six weeks," he added.

Islamist militants opposed to co-education and subscribers to sharia law have destroyed hundreds of schools, mostly for girls, in northwest Pakistan in recent years.

The fabled Khyber tribal region is the main land bridge to neighbouring Afghanistan and the principle supply route for NATO troops fighting an eight-year Taliban insurgency across the border.

Pakistani troops launched an offensive in Khyber in September in a bid to flush out the Taliban and homegrown militant group Lashkar-e-Islam (Army of Islam) led by local warlord Mangal Bagh.

The United States is increasing pressure on Pakistan to crack down more on militants hunkered down in its lawless tribal belt, branded the most dangerous place on Earth and the chief sanctuary of Al-Qaeda.