At least six children were killed and another 14 injured after a rocket hit their school in eastern Kunar province, officials said on Tuesday.
The rocket landed in the yard of the Salabagh primary school in the provincial capital of Asadabad, close to a US-led coalition base, said Zahidullah Zahid, a spokesman for the governor’s office in volatile Kunar province.
“The students were studying in the yard when the rocket landed, killing six innocent girls and boys,” Zahid explained, adding those who were injured were taken to the US-led coalition base nearby for treatment.
“Many students were slightly injured and soon after left hospital and joined their families,” Zahid added.
Kunar province borders Pakistan and has long been a hotbed of militant violence.
Hundreds of children aged six to 16 were in the school at the time of the attack, according to officials.
Zahid blamed the attack on the Taliban, who were ousted from power by coalition forces in December 2001.
Meanwhile, Tom Koenigs, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, condemned the attack and called on the militants to end violence against the children of the war-ravaged country.
“Children have a fundamental human right to education and there can be no justification for such a heinous attack. I want to reiterate my clear message that the children of Afghanistan should not be targeted by such violence and must be left alone in peace,” Koenigs said in a statement released on Tuesday.
“In all cultures and traditions it is universally accepted that women and children should be outside the arena of conflict and it is most upsetting that this principle is not being respected in Afghanistan,” the senior UN official maintained.
But militants, battling US and government forces, have recently launched numerous attacks on schools and teachers in various parts of the Central Asian state. Around 20 schools have been set ablaze in southern Helmand since last year, and, according to officials, around 200 other schools have been closed in the southern provinces of Zabul, Kandahar, Helmand, and Urozgan due to insecurity.
In December, a suspected Taliban gunman dragged a teacher from his classroom and shot him dead at the gates of his school after he ignored warnings to stop teaching boys and girls in a mixed class in Helmand province.
In a separate attack, also in December, gunmen shot and killed an 18-year-old male student and a guard at another school in Helmand. While in Zabul province, also in the south, a teacher was dragged from his home and beheaded in February.
Insecurity remains a key issue in post-Taliban Afghanistan. Despite the deployment of thousands of US and NATO forces, around 1,700 people died in conflict-related violence in 2005 alone.
Ninety-one US troops died in combat or as a result of accidents in 2005 - more than double the number for 2004.[Source: IRIN]
Posted on 2006-04-26