KABUL, Afghanistan – Even amid the everyday brutality of war, it was an especially horrific attack: Assailants earlier this month splashed battery acid on a group of Afghan girls, punishing them for going to school.
On Tuesday, Afghan authorities announced the arrests of 10 men described as Taliban militants in connection with the Nov. 12 attack in the southern city of Kandahar, the birthplace of the Taliban movement.
Men on motorbikes carried out the assault, targeting a group of about a dozen girls who were accompanied by several female teachers. Eleven schoolgirls and four adults were hurt, and at least two of the girls were hospitalized with burned and blistered faces.
The attack drew worldwide attention, with condemnations from human rights groups, the United Nations, Afghan President Hamid Karzai and first lady Laura Bush.
Education for girls was forbidden during the five-year reign of the Taliban, the fundamentalist movement that was toppled by a 2001 U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan. Girls’ education has since resumed in much of the country, but particularly in conservative areas like Kandahar, threats against educators and students abound, keeping many pupils away from the classroom.
In announcing the arrests, officials in Kandahar said a high-ranking militant had paid the men to plan and carry out the attack.
The arrests were made last week, but only disclosed on Tuesday by Kandahar Gov. Rahmatullah Raufi after the arrival of a delegation of senior Afghan government officials from the capital, Kabul.
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