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Afghan Minister Dismisses Taliban Schools Initiative

Militants have destroyed some 200 schools, including this one in Konar in April 2006 (epa) January 22, 2007 -- Afghan Education Minister Mohammad Hanif Atmar today dismissed a purported plan by Taliban insurgents to open schools in areas they control, and said the government will never allow it.

Atmar said the plan is merely a pretext for moving terror training centers into Afghanistan from Pakistan, where Afghan officials say many Taliban loyalists are based.

On January 21, a Taliban spokesman said the Islamist movement will spend $1 million on opening schools to counter the "propaganda" of the West and Afghanistan's Western-backed government.

Militants have carried out a violent campaign targeting schools in the past five years, destroying 200 schools and killing 20 teachers in 2006 alone.