The price of trying to get an education
KABUL: An Afghan teenager whose face was burned in an acid attack by suspected extremists vowed from her hospital bed yesterday to continue going to school even if it put her life in danger.
Men on motorbikes used a water pistol to spray acid into the faces of Shamsia and around dozen other girls as they arrived at school wearing all-covering burqas in Kandahar on Wednesday.
Shamsia, 17, was the most badly wounded and had some acid enter her eyes. She was transferred to a military hospital in Kabul where she was visited yesterday by other schoolgirls, accompanied by media.
“I will go to my school if they kill me,” she told reporters. “My message for the enemies is that if they do this 100 times, I am still going to continue my studies.”
It is not clear who carried out the attack which President Hamid Karzai and other officials blamed on the “enemies of Afghanistan” – a broad term that most often refers to extremist Taliban insurgents.
However a Taliban spokesman, Yousuf Ahmadi, said by telephone his group would “never do such a cowardly thing against girls and children”.
They only threaten to “do such a cowardly thing against girls and children”; but surely they would never really act on such threats??
The conservative Islamic 1996-2001 Taliban regime stopped girls from going to school. The education sector has since become among the main targets of a wave of unrest linked to an insurgency led by the hardliners.
This year around 115 schools have been set on fire, bombed or bulldozed in attacks education ministry spokesman Hamed Elmi blamed on “the opposition”.
About 120 people in the education sector have been killed in attacks, he said.
Security fears have caused more than 640 schools to close, most of them in volatile districts in the south and east of the country, Elmi said.