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Threats to Girls’ Education: Extremists Burn Student Vehicle, Beat School Owner, Flash Victory Sign

The Baloch Hal News

PANJGUR: Unidentified gunmen, suspected of having links to an underground religious extremist group opposing girls’ education, attacked and burned a school van carrying female students in Panjgur District on Wednesday, local residents confirmed. The students remained unhurt but the attackers beat the school owner who was driving the van.

Tanzeem-ul-Islami-ul-Furqan, an unknown underground religious extremist group, had disseminated threatening letters among all private schools in Panjgur district calling them to stop girls’ education or prepare for attacks.

An eyewitness to the latest incident told The Baloch Hal that Major (retired) Hussain Ali, the owner of the Oasis School in Panjgur district, was stopped on his way in Gramkan township by armed men when he was driving female students to school.

“Mr. Ali was on his way to school with his female staff on his vehicle when he was attacked. The attackers pulled him and the ladies out of the vehicle,” said a family member of the head of the school.

Local residents said the attackers wanted to shoot Mr. Ali but the female students resisted the attackers and prevented a possible shootout. The attack took place when Mr. Ali was in front of the house of some female students to pick them up.

“The attackers burned the student vehicle and threatened him to shut down the school,” said one eye-witness who added that after burning the vehicle, the attackers then escaped by riding their bikes in the presence of the Frontier Corps (F.C.) patrolling convoy at Football Chowk.

“They fired in air and showed victory signs when they reached the convoy,” said another eye-witness. ”They left towards west and the F.C. followed them slowly.”

Community members gathered in Gramkan area to express support for Mr. Ali who had been attacked and promised to support the private schools. A meeting of all the private schools was held soon after the attack. The representatives of the private schools had previously met with the district administration and shared the threats they had received but the local government had failed to offer any tangible security to the schools, female teachers and students.

“All private school owners have decided to shut down the schools for an indefinite period considering the lack of security provided to us, ” said Zahir Baloch, a prominent local educationist, while talking to The Baloch Hal.