Eighty Afghan girls’ schools close over Islamic State threat

More than 80 girls’ schools have closed and exams have been postponed after Islamic State militants in eastern Afghanistan said they would bomb them in retaliation for US air strikes.

Thousands of pupils were kept at home in Nangarhar province after the militants declared that "heavy blasts and thunderous attacks will target all those girl schools which disobey this warning".

Broadcasts on their propaganda radio warned officials to close the schools and told parents “not send their daughters to schools to pursue this secular infidel curriculum”.

All girls’ schools and many boys’ schools were closed in the city of Jalalabad and its neighbouring districts.

The eastern province has become a stronghold of the local affiliate of Islamic State in Iraq and Levant (Isil), since local Islamist militants began swearing allegiance to the movement in 2014.

The number of girls in education across the country was long touted as a sign of progress by the international coalition trying to rebuild Afghanistan.

Recent United Nations figures show the number of both boys and girls at school is starting to fall as security worsens.

Hayatullah Hayat, governor of Nangarhar, dismissed the warning by Isil, also known as Daesh, as propaganda.

He said: “Unfortunately, they want to disrupt the people’s understanding [about the prevailing situation] in order to achieve their goals."