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Thugs attack schools as ‘terror tactic’

Manama, February 24, 2013

Thugs attacking schools across the country are using "terror tactics" to keep children away from educational facilities, according to an official.

The information was revealed as the Education Ministry beefed up security by installing surveillance cameras and placing police patrols at key locations to prevent vandals from attacking government schools, our sister newspaper, the Gulf Daily News reported.

Vandalism

More than 120 schools have been targeted in the last 18 months, majority of which were vandalised or attacked by firebombs, a ministry official told the GDN.

The latest attack was against A'ali Primary School for Girls on Thursday, bringing the total to 122 schools.

The GDN reported that 112 schools were attacked until February 14, meaning that 10 additional schools were targeted in the last week alone.

"The security measures include increased presence of guards at schools as well as an increased ministry vehicle patrols," said the official, who was speaking on the condition of anonymity.

"The schools that faced more attacks would have more security added.”

"The first measure of security is from us and then the Interior Ministry, which provides regular police patrols around schools."

The official said several surveillance cameras have been installed in and around public schools in a bid to monitor the moves and strategies of the vandals.

"The CCTV cameras' main purpose is not to identify (attackers) as the majority of them are masked, but it acts as another warning system as well as a learning tool for us to know how the schools are attacked and what can be done to prevent or at least slow them down," he explained.

"If the terrorists are reacting to the measure and waiting for patrols to pass, the CCTV operators can alert the patrols when they are on patrol in another school."

He said that students were never harmed during the attacks, except on the eve of February 14 when vandals broke a window of a classroom at the Samaheej Primary Intermediate School for Boys, as violent clashes erupted across the country to coincide with the second anniversary of anti-government demonstrations in Bahrain.

"The only incident where a student was injured was on the most recent attacks, when students were in class and they (vandals) broke a window with stones and injured a student.”

"Also there was a Molotov attack on a school while students were in class, but no one was hurt," he said.

The street violence resulted in the deaths of 16-year-old Hussain Al Jazeeri, who suffered from gunshot injuries during clashes in Daih on February 14, and policeman Mohammed Asif Khan Afridi, 23, who was hit by an explosive projectile on the same night. More than 70 policemen were also injured during last week's clashes and 19 IEDs were reported across the country.

"In a period of 18 months there have been more than 120 attacks on schools," said the official.

"That number reflects the school years of 2011 until 2012 and 2012 until now. They (vandals) used Molotov cocktails during school hours and holidays. Thank God all the attacks were not directed at students, just the buildings.”

"Sometimes the entrances to schools are blocked by rubbish bins, which are filled with chemicals and gasoline and set on fire.”

“Meanwhile, some vandals break in to the school by tearing down the door."

He believes the attacks are "terror tactics" to keep students at home.

"The reason for the attacks is to scare students and what happens a day after an attack is that students will not come to school and stay at home," he explained. "There were many absentees in different schools and when we investigated we found out that they were afraid.”

"They (thugs) are also trying to send a message to parents that schools are not safe, but despite the attempts parents are not being intimidated and children are still coming to school."

He added that several thefts have also been reported during the attacks, particularly fire extinguishers which officials believe are being used as weapons.

Theft

"More than 70 (fire extinguishers) were stolen from schools, which was strange," he added. "Interior Ministry reports showed that they were being used to make weapons to shoot metal rods."

He urged the community to band together to combat attacks on schools, adding children, aged between four and 18, should never be a target of violence.

"Children, regardless of their background or religion, go to the same schools so no one expects that someone will (attack them) with a Molotov cocktail or break the windows," he explained.

"We all have to protect these schools." – TradeArabia News Service




Tags: Bahrain | Manama | Schools | thugs |

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