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Girls' school burned down in Afghanistan, Qurans destroyed

From Matiullah Mati, CNN
  • The incident occurred in Laghman province
  • Hundreds of Qurans were torched
  • The school was built by a U.S. team

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Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN) -- Armed men burned down a girls' primary school in eastern Afghanistan Monday night, an act that also destroyed hundreds of Qurans, a government official said Tuesday.

Ministry of Education spokesman Asif Nang tells CNN that the Sangar girls' primary school, located in the Alengar district of Laghman province, was destroyed.

About 850 copies of the Quran -- the Muslim holy book -- which were stored in the school's library were torched as well.

There were no deaths or injuries, but the groundskeeper was tied up and then freed later by responders.

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"This is not the first time," Nang said. "In the past, armed men have burned schools in Logar and Helmand provinces, burning holy books of Quran in these schools as well."

Nangyalai Seddiqi, the district governor, told CNN that the school was built by an American provincial reconstruction team.

Taliban militants have attacked girls' schools in the past, but Seddiqui said that the fire was apparently set by "addicts and thieves" in a failed robbery attempt.

The provincial governor's spokesman, Gul Rahman Hamdard, confirmed the burning of the school and the Qurans. He told CNN an investigation is ongoing.

Women were oppressed during the Taliban's rule, from 1996-2001, and many Afghan girls were not allowed to attend school during that time.

Girls' schools began reopening after the Islamist regime was toppled. The United Nations children's agency, UNICEF, estimates this year that 2 million Afghan girls are attending school.

However, the hostility hasn't ended. Earlier this year, there was a rash of poisonings involving schoolgirls.

As the insurgency has strengthened and spread from Taliban strongholds in the southern provinces of Kandahar and Helmand, female educational facilities, students and teachers have come under

vicious attack.

A report compiled last year by the humanitarian agency CARE documented 670 education-related attacks in 2008, including murder and arson.

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