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At Least 12 Schools Burned Down In Northern Pakistan

FILE: Pakistani schoolchildren at a government school.
FILE: Pakistani schoolchildren at a government school.

Pakistani police say at least 12 schools have been burned down in what officials suspect were coordinated attacks in the country's north.

The attacks occurred early on August 3 in the Diamer district in the northern Gilgit-Baltistan region.

There were no casualties because the schools -- half of them for girls only -- were closed at the time.

No group claimed responsibility for the alleged arson attacks, although similar incidents in the past have been blamed on militants.

Following the fires, residents staged a protest demanding the arrest of the culprits and greater safety for schools.

Police have announced the launching of a criminal probe.

Gilgit-Baltistan is a remote and mountainous area that borders Afghanistan, China, and the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir.

Pakistan faces significant education challenges, with an estimated 25 million children out of school, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW).

HRW said in a 2017 report that Pakistani militants have destroyed school buildings, targeted teachers and students, and terrorized parents into keeping their children out of school.

Based on reporting by Dawn, Geo TV, and AP