Attack on Pakistan school vans stir

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ISLAMABAD: At least five school kids were injured and a driver was killed in two attacks on Monday by unidentified gunmen on school vans in Pakistan’s restive Swat region bordering Afghanistan, reviving memories of October 2012 when a similar targeted strike on Nobel laureate Malala Yusufzai left her critically injured. The situation has been getting worse each day in the region since the takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban last year. Police said the first incident occurred on Monday outside a school in Swat’s Guli Bagh area, killing the driver and wounding two kids.

Officials said the assailants, who had been waiting on a motorcycle, opened fire on the van as it passed them and fled soon after. “The dead driver, and the injured third grader boy and girl, were taken to a hospital in nearby Khwazakhela town. No one has so far been arrested,” said Zahid Marwat, a senior police official, adding there were 15 students in the vehicle. In the second incident, two boys and a girl were injured as their school van was caught in crossfire between two groups in Dir district. Officials described condition of one of the students as critical and the other two as stable.

Locals say Pakistani Taliban freely roam at night in Swat, Dir and Buner. Matters are worse in tribal areas along the Afghan border. Following attacks on the school vans, hundreds of students and teachers of private schools in Swat and Dir took to the streets. The protesters held banners decrying the situation. “We know who is behind the current drama (an indirect reference to security forces).

We know why the forces are helpless against a handful of so-called terrorists,” said one protester in Swat’s Mingora city. Pashtun lawmaker Mohsin Dawar said the attacks should serve as a “wake-up call for the state that appears to be losing its writ in Swat again”. “The people of Swat have been protesting against terrorism but their voices are ignored. Pashtuns are being thrown to the wolves again.”

— Indian Times