News: Afghan villagers save school, clinic from insurgents
By Army Capt. Ashley Dellavalle
Combined Joint Task Force -82
PIRCUTI, Afghanistan - A village elder and his sons saved a school and clinic after insurgents attempted to burn the infrastructure in the village of Pircuti, Paktika province, April 1.
The school, which was constructed by the Swedish government in 1996, educates more than 1,100 children from the village and surrounding areas.
Recently, the school's headmaster requested assistance to fix a leaking roof, and the provincial government, in coordination with coalition forces, replaced the flat roof with a pitched roof to prevent leaking.
Villagers told coalition forces that 20 - 25 attackers broke into the school in the middle of the night and chased away a teacher who was on guard.
The insurgents then gathered books, chairs, desks, computers and the school's generator, piled the items in the center of the school and set them on fire. They left the school to burn and moved to the village's immunization clinic; which was still under construction.
Villagers also said that the insurgents doused the wooden window frames with gasoline and set them on fire. By this time, villagers had alerted the area's security commander and village elder, Mr. Zarif.
Mr. Zarif along with his three eldest sons surprised the insurgents at the clinic. A fire-fight ensued, and Zarif and his family fought off the insurgents.
There was no apparent injury to either group. The attackers abandoned the site, and Zarif put out the fire at the clinic while teachers quelled the fire at the school.
Despite the attack on the school, classes resumed the next day.
"I was concerned about the clinic and school; I just wanted the attackers to leave us alone," said Zarif. "We don't want the insurgents coming to our village and destroying our property. The clinic and school are important to our village."
"Thanks to the rapid and valiant efforts of the village residents to counter this insurgent threat, the insurgents' attack had only limited success," said Army Lt. Col. Frank Morrison, Combined Task Force Rugged civil military officer assisting Pircuti village. "By attempting to destroy the school, the insurgents are trying to undermine the Afghan government's efforts to provide an education to their youth and health care to their citizens."
The Afghan government, in coordination with coalition forces, plans to replace and repair the damaged supplies and infrastructure at both the clinic and school.