Bamako: Nearly 2,000 children in Mali have stopped going to school after suspected Islamists warned they would only allow religious education, teachers and local officials said on Tuesday.
"Armed jihadists arrived in our village last week by motorcycle," said a teacher in the village of Toubakoro, about 140 kilometres northeast of the capital Bamako.
"They told everyone to gather in a mosque. They told us to close all schools where French is taught, and to teach only the Koran instead," the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
"They threatened to punish anyone who broke the new rule." Mali is struggling with a jihadist insurgency that began with an uprising by Tuareg separatists in the north of the country in 2012.
The extremists were largely driven out in a French-led military operation launched in January 2013.
But large stretches of Mali remain out of the control of Malian, French and UN forces, which are frequent targets of attacks.