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Chart: Attacks on Teachers, Students, and Schools in Afghanistan

Human Rights Watch collected reports of 204 attacks (including attempts) on schools, teachers, and students from January 2005 to June 21, 2006. Of these attacks, 110 occurred in the first half of 2006. The pattern of these reports indicates a sharp rise in the targeting of Afghanistan’s education process in late 2005 and in 2006. As shown by the graphs in the summary of this report, while southern and southeastern provinces generally experienced more attacks, northern provinces were not exempt. Indeed, attacks were reported in twenty-eight of Afghanistan’s thirty-four provinces.


Each school attacked has been counted as a separate incident; however, where multiple people were injured or killed in the same place at the same time, we have chosen to count this as one incident. We have also made every effort to avoid recording a single incident more than once, based on reports from multiple sources. However, conflicting reports of the same incident make it possible that a single incident is recorded more than once.

These numbers should be understood as an approximation at best of the total number of attacks. Many attacks are likely never reported. The circumstances surrounding attacks in many parts of the country are impossible for humanitarian and human rights workers, journalists, and government officials to verify in person, precisely because insecurity prevents them from going there.

What is included in the chart

The following chart lists reported accounts of attacks and attempted attacks on teachers, students, and schools from January 2005 to June 21, 2006. The chart draws on four sources: ANSO weekly security situation summaries; data from U.N. sources from September 2005 to early May 2005 (these sources do not include information from UNICEF, which has chosen not to make their information public); press reports; and Human Rights Watch’s own interviews.

Included in the chart are instances in which it is not clear that schools were intentionally targeted, for example rocket attacks that hit schools as well as other buildings, attacks on homes of government officials where school was being held, and attacks on schools used as polling centers around the time of the parliamentary elections.

What is not included in the chart

Where Human Rights Watch obtained information that cast doubt on initial reports, we have excluded these incidents from the chart. For example, it was reported that unknown armed men fired seven rocket-propelled grenades at a girls’ school in Tagab, Kapisa, on April 9, 2006. But when Human Rights Watch visited the site, we found that the newly-built school was being used as a police post. The district police chief explained:

The newspapers got the story wrong about the school attack here in Tagab. Yes, a girls’ was attacked by seven rockets but it was because we [the police] are using at a base not because girls are going to school. No girls were going to the school because no would let them. We [the police] don’t have enough resources and that school was a good building. So we decided to use it.468

Accordingly, this incident was not included.

The chart also does not include threats alone against schools; these are both too numerous to count and too often not reported.

Download chart as a pdf file (16 pages, 97 kb)

[468] Human Rights Watch interview with Abdul Halim Khan, Tagab District Police Chief, Tagab District, Kapisa, May 7, 2006.

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