3rd girls school hit by poisoning in Afghanistan

One poisoning took place at a girls’ school in Charikar on Monday and another on April 26.

Nearly 90 young girls were taken to hospital after a suspected gas attack at their school in Afghanistan on Tuesday, the third in a series of such incidents north of Kabul, Afghan police and officials said.

The early morning mass poisoning at Qazaaq primary school in Kapisa province has put 94 people in hospital, mostly students but also three teachers and two guards, said Interior Ministry spokesman Zemaray Bashary.

The patients were vomiting and dizzy and some had been knocked unconscious, the same symptoms shown by victims of suspected gas attacks on two girls’ schools in nearby Charikar town, said Abdul Rahim Ayaar, spokesman for the Kapisa governor.

One poisoning took place at a girls’ school in Charikar on Monday and another on April 26.

The students were all out of danger, Kapisa police chief Matiullah Safi told Reuters, confirming the toll of 94 injured.

Unusually, the three incidents took place in a part of the country that was never under the firm control of the hardline Taleban and kept its girls’ schools open while the austere Islamists ruled most of the country.

The government was investigating the poisonings, the interior ministry’s Mr Bashary said, but it was too early to determine who was behind them.

There have been no clues as to what the gas was in either case or where it came from. Blood samples have been sent to the nearby US Bagram airbase but results have not yet come back.

Attacks on girls schools have increased in the past year, particularly in the Taleban’s eastern and southern heartlands, as a Taleban insurgency has gathered strength. When the Taleban were in power in Kabul they banned women from work and schools.

Last year a group of schoolgirls in Kandahar had acid thrown in their faces by men who objected to them attending school.


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