Militant attack on girls’ school in North-Western Pakistan sparks safety concerns for female students

The incident unfolded during the night on Wednesday in the town of North Waziristan, situated near the volatile Afghan border. According to local police official Amjad Suhail, the explosion caused partial damage to the compound of the privately-owned school.

A suspected militant attack has rattled a girls’ school in north-western Pakistan, sparking renewed concerns about the safety of female students in the region, who have long been targeted by Islamist extremists.

The incident unfolded during the night on Wednesday in the town of North Waziristan, located near the volatile Afghan border. According to local police official Amjad Suhail, an explosion caused partial damage to the compound of the privately owned school.

Thankfully, there were no casualties reported, and no injuries resulted from the blast.

North Waziristan, nestled among rugged mountains, has historically served as a stronghold for Islamist militants affiliated with groups like al-Qaeda and the Haqqani network, a faction of the Afghan Taliban. The Pakistani military initiated a series of offensives starting in 2014 to oust these militants from the region.

The Pakistani Taliban, known for their extremist ideology akin to their Afghan counterparts, have a notorious history of targeting girls’ schools. Between 2007 and 2009, hundreds of schools in Waziristan and Swat, including the hometown of Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai, fell victim to bombings orchestrated by the Taliban.

Yousafzai herself emerged as a symbol of resilience after surviving a Taliban assassination attempt in 2012, at the tender age of 15, for her advocacy of girls’ education.

The recent attack in North Waziristan has sent shockwaves through the community, reigniting fears of a resurgence in violence against girls’ education. “It has increased fears,” remarked former local member of parliament Ali Wazir.

The Pakistani Taliban, responsible for a significant death toll over the years, have been striving to regain strength following the fall of Kabul to their Afghan counterparts in 2021. This incident serves as a stark reminder of the persistent challenges confronting education, particularly for girls, in conflict-ridden areas of Pakistan.