Over 20 schools attacked on election day

Hundreds of schools and hospitals were used as voting stations in Afghanistan's presidential and parliamentary elections.
(Khaled Nahiz/IRIN)

At least 26 schools in different parts of Afghanistan were attacked by Taliban insurgents on 20 August - election day - apparently because they were being used as polling stations, according to the Ministry of Education (MoE).



"Of the 2,742 schools used as voting centres, 11 were attacked in Logar [Province], two in Khost, three in Kunduz, two in Baghlan, two in Kandahar, two in Laghman and four in Wardak Province," MoE spokesman Asif Nang told IRIN.



No casualties have been reported because students were off that day, MoE officials said.



The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), NGOs and rights watchdogs strongly opposed the use of schools as polling stations during the elections.



"There will be long-term misperceptions and security implications for students, teachers and the education sector as a whole," said Ajmal Samadi, director of an Afghan rights watchdog, whose organization - Afghanistan Rights Monitor - had asked the Independent Electoral Commission and MoE not to use schools in the elections.



However, MoE's Nang said: "We stand ready to make more and bigger sacrifices for the elections and similar important processes."



MoE said the schools were only partially damaged and the attacks had not caused disruption to classes.



Nang said the attacked schools were hit by rockets, missiles and improvised explosives, adding that efforts were under way to repair the damage.



Targeted



Insurgents have increasingly targeted schools: In 2008, UNICEF documented 292 attacks on schools, in which 92 people were killed and 169 injured.



From January to 30 June 2009, UNICEF recorded 171 school incidents, in which 60 students and teachers were killed.



Owing to insecurity and threats, at least 435 schools remain closed mostly in volatile southern, eastern and central provinces, according to MoE.



Over six million students - about 32 percent of them female - are currently enrolled at schools. However, school attendance ratios are believed to vary widely from province to province, especially among girls.



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This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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