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Five women teachers killed by Islamic extremists in Pakistan

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
January 1st, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Five women teachers traveling in a van in northwest Pakistan were shot to death by Islamic militants. It was a brutal beginning for a new year in a nation where both education for females - and such rudimentary things as polio vaccine for children are frowned upon, and called immoral "influences from the west." Two health workers were also killed in the incident.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The women were murdered in a New Year's Day ambush in a van carrying them home from their jobs at a community center and primary school in the northwest of the country.

The teachers and two health workers, one man and one woman were killed in the conservative Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan.

The workers were on their way home from a community center in the town of Swabi where they were working at a primary school and medical center. Javed Akhtar, executive director of the non-governmental organization Support with Working Solutions said that gunmen on motorcycles opened fire with automatic weapons.

The NGO conducts programs in the education and health sectors and runs a primary school and a medical clinic at the community center in Swabi, he said.

Swabi Police Chief Abdur Rasheed says that most of the women killed were between the ages of 20 and 22. He said the four gunmen who used two motorcycles fled the scene and have not been apprehended.

No group has claimed responsibility for the incident.

The incident here was a deadly and familiar one. It was the same region that a Taliban gunman shot 15-year-old Malala Yousufzai in the head last October for daring to criticize militants and quietly promoting girls' education. She continues to recover in Britain.

The attack was yet another grim reminder of the risks faced by educators and aid workers, in particular women, in an area where Islamic militants often target women and girls trying to get an education.

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has since many attacks in opposition to female education. Schools have been blown up, and instructors have been killed is an attempt to demoralize and discourage girls here from learning.

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