Militants detonated an explosive device at a girls’ school in a former Taliban stronghold in Pakistan’s volatile northwest, causing significant damage to the building, according to police reports on Thursday. Fortunately, there were no injuries reported in the attack that occurred overnight.

No group has claimed responsibility for the late Wednesday attack on the sole girls’ school in Shawa, located in the North Waziristan district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, which borders Afghanistan, said local police chief Amjad Wazir.

UNICEF strongly condemned the bombing as a “despicable and cowardly act that could jeopardize the future of many young and talented girls.”

The police chief explained that the attackers assaulted the school guard before setting off explosives at the Aafia Islamic Girls Model School, a private institution serving 150 students.

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The suspicion naturally falls on Islamic militants, particularly the Pakistani Taliban, who have previously targeted girls’ schools in the province, opposing female education.

Abdullah Fadil, the UNICEF representative in Pakistan, denounced the “destruction of a girls’ school in a remote and underserved area” as a severe setback to national progress. He referenced Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s declaration of an education emergency on Wednesday, pledging to address the enrollment of 26 million out-of-school children.

Pakistan had faced numerous attacks on girls’ schools until 2019, notably in the Swat Valley and other parts of the northwest under the control of the Pakistani Taliban. In 2012, insurgents targeted Malala Yousafzai, a teenage student and advocate for girls’ education, who later received the Nobel Peace Prize.

Although the Pakistani Taliban, also known as Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), have been expelled from Swat and other regions in recent years, they maintain close ties with the Afghan Taliban, who seized power in Afghanistan in 2021.

The Taliban’s rise to power in neighboring Afghanistan has emboldened the Pakistani Taliban.

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