The attack on the army school in Peshawar- the worst terrorist attack in Pakistan’s history, which left 132 children and nine staff dead — is not an isolated incident. School children all over the world are living under the shadow of the gun.
The recent incident reminds us of the September 1, 2004, school attack in Beslan, North Ossetia, Russia where armed Chechen rebels took nearly 1,200 children and adults hostage. The siege continued for three days at the end of which 334 people including 186 children were killed, and 700 wounded.
All over the world some 125,000 terrorist attacks have been reported in the past nearly one decade. Over the past five years, armed groups, terrorists, and criminal groups have attacked thousands of school and university students, teachers and education establishments in some 70 countries. About 30 of these were deliberate attacks.
School in Afghanistan witnessed about 1,110 attacks – kidnappings, arson, explosions and suicide bombings. Attacks on schools have been part of an explicit Taliban policy. Grenades, IEDs, and rockets have been fired at schools. Tents have been burnt, and children have been killed on the way to or from school. The result is that more than 70% of schools in Helmand and more than 80% in Zabul – provinces have closed down. Even the rest have the world‘s lowest levels of attendance.
Colombia happens to be one of the most dangerous places for teachers. About 140 teachers have been killed, and 1,086 others have received death threats. Atleast 305 have been forced to leave their homes because their risk to lives over the last four years.
In Somalia, an Al Shabaab suicide bomber exploded a truck filled with drums of fuel outside a compound in Mogadishu housing the education ministry and other ministries, killing 100 or more people, many of whom were students and parents in October 2011.
Pakistan, itself bears testimony of 838 Taliban attack on schools and blown up buildings. Some 30 school students and 20 teachers have been killed. 97 school students and eight teachers have been injured, and 138 school students and staff have been kidnaped. One higher education student and four academics were killed, and dozens of university students have been injured. Insurgent groups in Pakistan‘s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and FATA Areas have targeted girls‘in primary and secondary schools. 95 girls were injured in one attack as they left school.
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