World

Afghan girls returning to school after acid attack

Students are slowly returning to classes at a Kandahar City girls' school following an attack last week that left several girls with acid burns on their faces.

Students are slowly returning to classes at a Kandahar City girls' school following an attack last week that left several girls with acid burns on their faces.

"Compared to the first couple of days, there are more students coming to the school," said Mahmood Qaderi, the principal of Mirwais Minna girls' school. "Hopefully more [will] come in the future."

None of the school's 1,500 students or teachers attended classes in the days following last Wednesday's attack. The students were seriously burned after two men on a motorcycle threw acid on them as they walked to the classes.

Afghanistan's government condemned the attack and blamed the "country's enemies," a reference normally used to describe Taliban militants. Girls were banned from schools under the Taliban's hardline Islamist regime, which ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001.

Qaderi said government officials have pledged to improve security near the school.

"I'm pretty confident security will be better and all the students and teachers will be satisfied and all the students and teachers will return to school," he said.

Susan Ibrahimi, one of the students burned by the acid, said she won't be deterred from going to school.

"I'm in class 12. I will pursue my education. These type of insurgent activities won't stop me from getting my education," she said.

The 18-year-old, who received minor burns to her face, said she supports Afghan President Hamid Karzai's weekend call for the public execution of the attackers.

"Whoever threw this acid poison at us, these people should be hanged. We don't want to forgive those people."

Students and teachers at the school said they won't be intimidated.

A student named Aqila said she wants to come to school.

"I'm not scared. I want to be a doctor, and if we don't come to school, then I'd have to stay home and do nothing," she said.

"We are just educating our youth," said an unidentified teacher. "They can't stop us. Even if they burn me, I wouldn't stop. I'd come to school and teach classes."

With files from the Associated Press