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Assailants torch 12 schools in Northern Pakistan

Islamabad, Unidentified assailants have torched at least 12 schools in Pakistan's northern Diamer district in Gilgit-Baltistan and fled away, local media reported.

Diamer Superintendent Police (SP) Roy Ajmal told media that police had so far received information that 12 schools - at least half of which are girls-only schools - had been set on fire overnight. He said that in some cases, books had also been thrown outside the schools and set alight.

Police teams have been dispatched to investigate the reports, SP Ajmal said, adding that no one has claimed responsibility for the incidents as yet.

Diamer Commissioner Syed Abdul Waheed Shah told media that no arrests have been made so far. There are no Taliban militants in the area, however, extremists who oppose female education are present, Shah disclosed.

Local residents and journalists said they had heard explosions in GPS Ronay and Girls School Takya, but police did not mention receiving reports about blasts.

The Diamer Youth Movement called for a protest in Chilas, the district headquarters, against the targeting of education institutions in the district.

The schools were built to promote education in Diamer district, which has the lowest literacy rates for boys and girls in GB.

Diamer is the lowest-ranking district in terms of quality of education in GB, with a score of 36.37, and among the 10 lowest-ranking districts in Pakistan.

There are 244 government schools in the district, about 83 percent of which are at primary level, 10.6 percent middle schools and 6 percent high schools. There are no higher secondary schools in the district. Of the total number of government schools, 156 are boys schools, while 88 are girls schools.

Of the 16,800 students enrolled in government schools, only 20 percent or 3,479 are girls.

Source: Islamic Republic News Agency - IRNA

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