106 Afghan students detained in Pakistan madrassa raid

30.08.2016

Pakistani police raided a madrassa in the restive south-western city of Quetta and detained 106 illegal Afghan students, officials said on Monday, as the government stepped up a campaign to rein in rogue religious schools.

The detentions were made on Saturday and the students, aged between 14 to 18 years – who had no documents giving them permission to be in the country– will eventually be deported to Afghanistan, senior police official Nadeem Hussain told journalists.

"We have sealed the madrassa as it did not have any registration documents," he said.

Akbar Harifal, the Home Secretary for Baluchistan province, of which Quetta is the capital, confirmed the raid and detentions.

Pakistan had vowed to keep a closer eye on its 13,000 Islamic seminaries, or madrassas, as part of a "National Action Plan" after the country's deadliest extremist attack, a Taliban assault on a school that left more than 150 people dead in December 2014. With little oversight of what was being taught to the hundreds of thousands of children enrolled in the country's madrassas, fears intensified after the 2014 attack that some religious schools were breeding grounds for intolerance – or even extremism.

There was no suggestion that the seminary raided on Saturday had links to extremism.

Pakistan is home to 1.5 million registered and about as many undocumented Afghan refugees, with growing insecurity in Afghanistan impeding voluntary return programmes.

Baluchistan, the country's biggest and poorest province, has been plagued for more than a decade by a separatist insurgency and sectarian killings.    (AFP)

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