Taliban Night Letter from Zabul Province


Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan

This is to warn all the teachers and those employees who work with Companies to stop working with them. We have warned you earlier and this time we give you a three days ultimatum to stop working. If you do not stop, you are to blame yourself.

Mullah MuradKhan Kamil

Zabul was the scene of one of the more gruesome attacks on a school official in Afghanistan-the decapitation of a headmaster on the night of January 3, 2005. The brutality of the attack shocked even battle-hardened Afghans and sent ripples through the community of teachers and development aid workers. According to provincial education department director Mohammad Nabi Khushal, four "[a]rmed militants entered the house of the headmaster . . . and brutally beheaded him in front of his children." The victim, Abdul Habib, reportedly worked at the Sheik Mathi Baba School, one of Zabul's two high schools, both located in the provincial capital, Qalat. Director Khushal told journalists that insurgents had occasionally put up posters around the city demanding that schools for girls be closed and threatening to kill teachers.

Zabul province has been a hotbed of insurgency since the fall of the Taliban and subject to tremendous insecurity, some of it associated with the cross-border narcotics trade. With the assistance of U.S. forces, security improved last year in the provincial capital and along the Kabul-Kandahar highway. However, Zabul remains one of the most dangerous and least developed areas of Afghanistan. In Zabul, like in other areas across southern Afghanistan, it is difficult to distinguish between insurgent activity and the action of criminals, because in some cases the two groups share a common purpose in weakening the government, or even work directly to support one another.

Only 9 percent of Zabul's students were girls in 2004-2005, and four districts in the province had no girls enrolled at all in school that year. In March 2006, a provincial education department official gave Human Rights Watch similar figures: only 3,000 (8 percent) of the 37,743 officially enrolled students in Zabul were girls. Due to insecurity, he said, only ninety-five of the provinces 181 schools were open.

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