September 12, 2018

Children's terror as bombers attack three Afghan schools in one morning

Extremists in eastern Afghanistan struck at three schools in Nangarhar province

Photo credit: UNICEF / Ficker

A 12-year-old boy was killed and others injured in one of the blasts - the latest in a series of attacks on education in Nangarhar province.

Children were excited to be back at school and with their friends again after the summer break. But their joy turned to terror yesterday when three schools were targeted by bombers in and around the Afghan city of Jalalabad.

A double bombing outside a girls' school killed a 12-year-old boy and injured several others who had rushed to the scene. A bomb went off outside another girls' school and an explosive device was found next to a third school.

The blasts are the latest in a series of attacks on education in Nangarhar province. In July, at least 11 people were killed when gunmen stormed an education department compound as teachers were delivering exam results.

The first explosion yesterday happened early in the morning outside Biba Hawa girls' school in Behsood district outside Jalalabad. There were no students there at the time.

Then about an hour later at 8.30am there was a blast in front of Malika Omaira girls' school. As students from a neighbouring boys' school and locals gathered at the scene, another bomb exploded, provincial governor spokesman Ataullah Khogyani told AFP news agency.

"We went with other boys to see what had happened after we heard an explosion near the girls' school," 12-year-old Elyas told AFP from his hospital bed.

"Another explosion hit us and I was wounded (in the leg). I saw girls crying, rushing out of school. They were all in a panic."

Explosive experts then located and diffused an improvised explosive device placed by terrorists next to a third school.

Students study for exams at a library in Afghanistan, where the Taliban and Islamic State have attacked education

Photo credit: World Bank

The United Nations said Nangarhar schools have been specifically targeted by the Taliban and Islamic State in retaliation for operations by government and allied forces in the area.

“The bombings of schools and the killing of children are among the most egregious and repulsive acts of terrorism which violate international humanitarian law,” said Tadamichi Yamamoto, the UN Special Representative for Afghanistan.

The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) called on the attackers to comply with international humanitarian law and stop targeting civilians, including schools.

Schools are meant to be safe places for children to learn. Afghanistan was one of the first nations to sign the Safe Schools Declaration - a commitment to secure schools and prevent attacks and military occupation of education buildings.

Theirworld is campaigning for all permanent members of the United Nations Security Council to back the declaration and send out a message that children should be safe when they are at school.

The Nangarhar attacks were also condemned by Protecting Education in Insecurity and Conflict (PEIC), a programme of the Education Above All foundation.

“Another attack on education, another innocent young life that has been lost to this horrific tragedy," said Professor Maleiha Malik, Executive Director of PEIC.

“The deliberate and continued targeting of students, teachers and educational institutions is an active attempt to destabilise Afghanistan, destroy its infrastructure, and weaken its ability to ever truly recover."

Take Action

Safe Schools Declaration

Tells the world’s most powerful countries - the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council - they must protect education and back the Safe Schools Declaration.

Sign SafeSchools petition
  • Act
  • Related News