Taliban militants held over acid attack

AFGHAN police have arrested 10 Taliban militants involved in an acid attack this month against 15 girls and teachers walking to school in southern Afghanistan, a provincial governor said yesterday.

“Several” of the arrested militants have confessed to taking part in the acid attack, said Kandahar governor Rahmatullah Raufi. He declined to say exactly how many confessed.

High-ranking Taliban fighters paid the militants a total of $2,000 (€1,538) to carry out the attack, Raufi said. The attackers came from Pakistan but were Afghan nationals, said Doud Doud, an Interior Ministry official.

The attackers squirted the acid from water bottles onto three groups of students and teachers walking to school in Kandahar city on November 12. Several girls suffered burns to the face and were hospitalised. One teenager couldn’t open her eyes days after the attack.

After the investigation is complete, the accused will be tried in open court, said Raufi.

One of the attack’s victims, a teacher named Nuskaal who was burned through her burqa, called for a harsh punishment for the attackers.

“If these people are found guilty, the government should throw the same acid on these criminals. After that they should be hanged,” said Nuskaal, who like many Afghans goes by one name.

Afghanistan’s government called the attack “un-Islamic,” and the United Nations labelled it “a hideous crime”. US First Lady Laura Bush decried it as cowardly.

A Taliban spokesman earlier this month denied that Taliban militants were involved in the attack.

Girls were banned from attending schools under the Taliban regime.

Raufi said that girls attending the school didn’t attend class for three days after the attack, but that girls have since returned to class there.

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