By Islamuddin Sajid
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AA) – Police suspect Taliban militants were responsible for the torching of 12 schools in Pakistan, an official said Sunday.
The schools — at least half of which were for girls — were burned down on Friday in Chilas area of Diamer district in northern Gilgit-Baltistan region.
In a counter-terror operation following the attacks, at least one suspected Taliban militant was killed and 31 others arrested, Sanaullah Abbasi, chief of Gilgit-Baltistan police told reporters in Chilas.
A police officer was killed and another injured in the armed clash.
“Search and targeted operations are still underway in different areas of Chilas to eliminate all hideouts of militants in the area,” Abbasi added.
He said initial investigations revealed that the attackers had been trained in Afghanistan.
No militants group has yet claimed responsibility for the attacks.
Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai condemned the attacks on schools.
"The extremists have shown what frightens them most – a girl with a book," she said in a tweet on Friday.
She demanded the authorities to rebuild these schools immediately and get students back to their classrooms.
Pakistan's Prime Minister-elect Imran Khan also condemned the attack.
In a statement, the district administration of Diamer said that construction work for the damaged schools has started and they would re-open till the end of this month.
Gilgit-Baltistan has been relatively peaceful for last several years.