Students protest in Pakistan after school bus attack
Mingora: A driver was shot dead and a student critically wounded in an attack on a school bus in Pakistan on Monday, police said, leading up to 2,000 girls and boys to walk out of classes in protest.
The Swat Valley, where the attack took place, was once overrun by the Pakistani Taliban, who notoriously shot Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai on a school bus in the same city ten years ago.
The area has seen a resurgence of militancy since the Taliban returned to power in Afghanistan last year with a spike in attacks — mainly targeting security forces — in recent weeks.
“The attacker fled the scene and a search operation has been launched,” police official Ali Badshah told AFP, adding that the wounded boy was aged between 10 and 11.
Locals in Mingora, the city where the attack took place, fear it was carried out by the Pakistani Taliban but the militants have denied responsibility for Monday’s shooting.
The group, who share a common ideology with the Afghan Taliban but are an independent outfit, controlled Swat between 2007 and 2009.
Students from private schools across Swat Valley staged a protest on Monday calling for peace.
“People are angry and they are protesting. Students from all the private schools came out to protest,” Ahmad Shah, principal of a private school told AFP, adding that schools would remain closed on Tuesday.
Monday’s attack comes a day after the 10th anniversary of the shooting of Yousafzai by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) when she was a schoolgirl.
Yousafzai survived the assassination attempt and went on to become a global education advocate, winning the Nobel Peace Prize.
The Pakistan government and TTP have been in a series of on-off ceasefires over the past year, with both sides accusing each other of violations.
In a separate incident in a town neighbouring Mingora on Monday, two girls and a boy were wounded in cross-firing, which police said was the result of a “personal vendetta”.
Pakistan’s security has dramatically improved in recent years, with the military cracking down on militancy that had claimed tens of thousands of lives.