Afghanistan's education minister says the government will never allow the Taleban to set up schools in the south of the country.

Mohammad Hanif Atmar told a news conference Monday that a Taleban vow to open schools in Afghanistan was an excuse for setting up terrorist training centers in the country.

A Taleban spokesman, Abdul Hai Muthmahien, said by telephone from a secret location late Saturday that the schools would be set up beginning in March to   "counter propaganda of the West and its puppets against Islam."

Atmar says Taleban militants had burned 183 schools in the past year and killed 61 students and teachers. He says Taleban violence had also closed down nearly 400 schools in areas where the militants said they would set them up.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.