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Suspected Taleban Insurgents Behead Afghan School Teacher


Suspected Taleban insurgents beheaded a school teacher late Tuesday in central Afghanistan. The murder is the latest in an apparent terror campaign targeting teachers and schools in Afghanistan.

Family members found Abdul Habib's decapitated body at home home, not far from his school in Zabul province.

Government spokesman Ali Khail says unknown assailants broke into the headmaster's house.

He says neighbors called the police after they heard Mr. Habib screaming. By the time officials reached the scene the popular teacher was already dead.

His murder is only the latest in a string of violent attacks on Afghan educators.

Posters threatening teachers have been distributed off and on throughout the past year and at least half a dozen schools in Southern Afghanistan have been set on fire.

In December, suspected Taleban gunmen in Kandahar dragged a teacher from his classroom, killing him as his students watched from the nearby school.

In Zabul, where Mr. Habib was assassinated Tuesday, officials say security concerns have closed more than half the province's schools.

Officials say Taleban insurgents are in particular targeting schools and teachers that support girls' education.

When the Taleban controlled Afghanistan, the Islamic militants claimed women's' education was fundamentally unIslamic and banned girls from going to school.

But since the Taleban regime was ousted in 2001, hundreds of thousands of girls have flocked back to schools across the country.

Afghan education coordinator for the U.S.-based International Rescue Committee, Pilar Robledo, says new schools are filling up almost as soon as they open their doors.

"Now when you look at our schools there is no room for the children, the classrooms are overflowing. We cannot meet the demand," said Ms. Robledo.

But the attacks, she says, are taking a toll. Rumors of Taleban abductions are scaring off prospective teachers and making it hard to staff new schools, especially in southern Afghanistan where the Islamic militants are primarily based.

Government officials are vowing to step up their anti-insurgent operations and strengthen security for vulnerable schools.