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KHYBER AGENCY — Sporting or extra-curricular activities have become a new Taliban-imposed taboo for tribal students as militants targeted two schools in the Khyber tribal region for letting students, including girls, compete in sports or cultural events.

Areas under Taliban control in parts of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa already endured a strict ban on playing and listening to music.

“The Taliban . . . are now looking for soft targets after being frustrated by continuous successes in military operations in different parts of FATA,” Fazal Manan, director of education of FATA, told Central Asia Online.

“Girls’ education is also considered un-Islamic by these self-proclaimed champions of the religion of Islam. . . . They have now started targeting schools where students, particularly girls, had participated in any extra-curricular activities.”

Militants have destroyed almost 450 schools in the tribal regions, he said.

The Taliban destroyed two schools in Jamrud and Landi Kotal tehsils of Khyber Agency December 18 and December 22. The attacks came after girls attending a Jamrud school competed in a sporting gala and after boys at a Landi Kotal private school organised a cultural show to mark the end of their school year. The regional Directorate of Sports in Peshawar administered both events.

Abdullah Ezaam Brigade, an auxiliary of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan in Khyber Agency, claimed responsibility for both bombings and warned of more such attacks if students, particularly girls, continued such activities. However, FATA Director of Sports Faisal Jameel is defiant and promises more such sporting contests in the future to attract tribal girls to healthy activities.