Afghan Schoolgirls Ill, Potentially Poisoned
Three Afghan schools have now been affected by alleged gas poisoning targeting schoolgirls. Nearly 100 girls were hospitalized in the most recent incident Tuesday and 60 students were hospitalized after a separate attack Monday, according to the Associated Press. In each incident, students have become ill soon after reporting strong odors.
It is unclear if the attacks are the work of Taliban sympathizers who are against educating girls. Though the schools are all north of Kabul in Kapisa province, a region that has not been strongly controlled by the Taliban, the head of security there told Reuters that Taliban involvement in the attacks is likely. During the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, which lasted until 2001, girls were forbidden to attend school.
Violence against girls' schools has been rising in Taliban-controlled areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Last year, Taliban insurgents were arrested in the case of an acid attack against schoolgirls in the southern city of Kandahar. In Pakistan's Swat Valley, more than 130 schools, many of which were all girl institutions, have been destroyed in the area in the past year.
Media Resources: Feminist Daily Newswire 12/3/08,1/5/09; BBC 5/12/09; Reuters 5/12/09; Associated Press 5/12/09