Dozens of Afghan Schoolgirls Ill after Alleged Gas Poisonings
At least 88 Afghan schoolgirls and teachers have become ill after suspected poison gas attacks at three schools in the past week. All three schools are in Kunduz Province in northern Afghanistan.
Humayun Khamoosh, who runs the Central Hospital in Kunduz, which treated many of the girls, told Press TV that the victims "complained of a strange odor in their classrooms before they fell ill. After the initial treatment they were in stable condition."
Dr. Mohammad Qasam Khamoosh treated girls from two of the three schools and told CNN that "unknown gases" caused the mass illness and blamed "terrorist activities against education in the country" for the incident. It is unclear if the Taliban were behind the attacks.
A similar incident occurred in May 2009, when more than 150 students were hospitalized after three separate incidents during which students became ill soon after reporting strong odors.
In Taliban-controlled areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan, violence against schools that educate girls has been a key part of campaigns against the education of women. In Pakistan's Swat Valley, more than 130 primarily all girl schools have been destroyed, allegedly by the Taliban. In total, hundreds of schools have been destroyed in Pakistan's northwest region over the past several years. During the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, which lasted until 2001, Afghan girls were forbidden to attend school. To date, more than 1,000 girls' or co-educational schools have been bombed or burned in Afghanistan.
Media Resources: CNN 4/26/10; Press TV 4/26/10; Feminist Daily Newswire 5/12/09, 4/15/10