From AP via Newsday, Jan. 5:
Taliban militants beheaded a teacher in a central Afghan town while his wife and eight children watched, officials said Wednesday, describing the latest in a string of attacks targeting educators at schools where girls study.
Four men stabbed Malim Abdul Habib eight times late Tuesday before decapitating him in the courtyard of his home in Qalat, said Ali Khail, a spokesman for the provincial government of Zabul, where the attack took place.
The assailants made Habib’s wife, four sons and four daughters watch, Khail said. His children were between the ages of 2 and 22. No other family members were hurt.
The insurgents killed Habib, 45, after he refused to go with them to meet their commander, said the victim’s cousin, Esanullah, who goes by only one name.
The attackers fled and Habib’s wife called the police, Khail said. Police are questioning three people who were guests in the victim’s home at the time.
Habib was the headmaster of Shaikh Mathi Baba high school, which is attended by 1,300 boys and girls.
Zabul, a remote and mountainous province populated mainly by Pashtuns and bordering Pakistan, is a hotbed of Taliban militancy. The former Taliban regime prohibited girls from attending school as part of its widely criticized drive to establish what it considered a “pure” Islamic state.
Zabul province’s education director, Nabi Khushal, blamed Taliban rebels for the killing.
“Only the Taliban are against girls being educated,” he said. “The Taliban often attack our teachers and beat them. But this is the first time one has been killed in this province.”
Cleric Sayed Omer Munib, a member of the nation’s top Islamic council, said there was no justification in Islam’s holy book, the Quran, to prevent girls from studying.
“Nowhere in the Quran does it say that girls do not have the right to education,” he said. “It says that ‘people should be educated.’ This means girls, too.”
Hundreds of thousands of girls have returned to school since U.S.-led forces ousted the Taliban in 2001.
Esanullah said Habib resumed a more than 20-year teaching career two years ago after the Taliban threatened him while he was working for an aid group helping the disabled. Since then, the Taliban had warned him twice to stop teaching.
Habib’s funeral Wednesday was attended by hundreds of students and teachers.
In the past year, Taliban insurgents have occasionally put up posters around Qalat demanding girls’ schools be closed and threatening to kill teachers, Khushal said.
He said 100 of the province’s 170 registered schools have been closed in the past two to three years because of poor security. Of the 35,000 students attending schools in Zabul, 2,700 were girls, he said.
There has been a series of attacks on girls’ schools and teachers across Afghanistan since the Taliban regime fell. In October, gunmen killed a headmaster in front of his students at a boys’ school in southern Kandahar province, the former stronghold of the Taliban regime.
From VOA, Jan 5:
Afghan officials say a suicide bomber has killed 10 people in a local market, as the U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan held talks nearby with local officials.
About 50 people, including a top police official, were wounded in the attack Thursday in the city of Tarin Kot, in central Uruzgan province. U.S. Ambassador Ronald Neumann was in the governor’s headquarters at the time.
A spokesman for the U.S. embassy says the ambassador was not in danger and has safely returned to Kabul. A purported Taleban spokesman says a local Taleban carried out the attack.
Also, Afghan security forces near the Pakistani border found a car packed with explosives that they suspect was to be used in an attack.
Afghanistan has been hit with a number of suicide attacks in recent months, including one Monday in the southern city of Kandahar, which wounded an American soldier and two Afghan civilians.
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