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Cablegate: Gunmen Shoot Schoolgirls in Logar

VZCZCXRO8931
PP RUEHDBU RUEHIK RUEHPW RUEHYG
DE RUEHBUL #1970/01 1700256
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 190256Z JUN 07
FM AMEMBASSY KABUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8698
INFO RUCNAFG/AFGHANISTAN COLLECTIVE
RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/OSD WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC//JF/UNMA//
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL
RHMFIUU/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL
RUMICEA/JICCENT MACDILL AFB FL
RHMFIUU/COMSOCCENT MACDILL AFB FL
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 4172
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO 3652
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 6727
RUEHUNV/USMISSION UNVIE VIENNA 2050

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KABUL 001970

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR SCA/FO DAS GASTRIGHT, SCA/A
STATE PASS TO USAID FOR AID/ANE, AID/DCHA/DG
NSC FOR HARRIMAN
OSD FOR SHIVERS
CENTCOM FOR CG CFC-A, CG CJTF-82 POLAD
RELEASABLE TO NATO/AUST/NZ/ISAF

E.O. 12958 N/A
TAGS: PTER EAID PREL PGOV PHUM AF
SUBJECT: GUNMEN SHOOT SCHOOLGIRLS IN LOGAR


SUMMARY
-------

1. (SBU) Two schoolgirls were killed and five wounded on June 12
when two assailants fired at students leaving a school in Logar
Province south of Kabul. Police report they have made three
arrests, including one of the shooters. Afghan authorities believe
that the gunmen were Taliban members; however, a Taliban spokesman
has denied responsibility. Provincial officials have noted a
decline in girls' attendance at school since the incident. In
response to a request from the Provincial Education Officer in
Logar, UNICEF has agreed to build security walls around four other
girls' schools in the province. END SUMMARY.

THE ATTACK AND ANP RESPONSE
---------------------------

2. (SBU) Two gunmen fired indiscriminately at students in front of
Khali Saida girls' middle and secondary school in Logar Province on
June 12 (graduation day), killing two girls and wounding five
others. The assailants apparently waited for school to recess for
the day and shot the girls (aged 12-14) from a nearby wheat field as
the girls started to leave the school grounds. The gunmen escaped
on foot, but local Afghan National Police (ANP) officials say they
have arrested three men in connection with the shooting. ANP
believe at least one of those arrested was an actual gunman and
claim that the arrested gunman is an anti-government insurgent. Two
of the wounded girls were medevaced to Kabul and are listed in
stable condition.

TALIBAN RESPONSIBLE?
--------------------

3. (U) Afghan Education Minister Hanif Atmar condemned the attack
and blamed the Taliban. "Those who carried out this cowardly attack
are the enemies of the country." A Taliban spokesperson, however,
denied responsibility for the assault, alleging that a tribal feud
was the most likely motive. During a June 16 ceremony, Minister
Atmar vowed to build more girls' schools in Logar -- two of which
will be named after the murdered girls -- as a testament to the
GOA's commitment to women's education and its refusal to be
intimidated by terrorist acts. President Karzai also received the
victims' families and elders from Logar at the Palace. Solatia
payments of USD $4000 and $1000, respectively, will be given to
compensate families of the murdered and injured girls.

UNICEF TO BUILD WALLS AROUND OTHER GIRLS' SCHOOLS
--------------------------------------------- ----

4. (U) Having noted that attendance at girls' schools around the
province has declined significantly since the shooting, the
Provincial Education Officer asked the international community to
build security walls around four other vulnerable girls' schools.
UNICEF has agreed to build these walls, and USAID is identifying
options to promote continuing girls' education in the community.


THE LARGER PICTURE
------------------

5. (SBU) While the Taliban have previously destroyed several girls'
schools in the area and killed teachers, they have not directly
attacked students in Logar province before. The Ministry of
Education reported that in 2006, nation-wide 198 schools were
attacked and a total of 370 schools were closed due to threats or
community fears, preventing almost 220,000 students from receiving
an education. These attacks killed at least 54 teachers, students,
or other school employees. The first half of 2007, however, has

KABUL 00001970 002 OF 002


generally witnessed a sharp decline in the number of attacks on
schools, students, and teachers, presumably as Taliban and other
insurgents realized that attacking Afghan children and teachers
creates resistance within the local population.

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