A girls’ school in Kabul, Afghanistan was the target of a gas attack yesterday. The attack sickened 59 students and 14 teachers, reports CNN. Ruqia, a fifteen year old student at the school, said, “I smelled something very, very foul as I was sitting in my classroom. I saw my classmates falling down, my vision got blurred and I heard everyone screaming before I became unconscious,” according to Agence France Presse. Doctors report that all of the victims should recover.
“This is not an accident. Similar incidents have happened in girls’ schools before. We think there are groups who do not tolerate development and progress – their aim is to prevent girls from going to school,” Afghan education ministry spokesman Asef Nang told Agence France Presse. He also said that this is the ninth such gas attack on a girls’ school.
The Taliban are suspected to be behind the gas attacks, but the government has not confirmed or identified the perpetrator in the latest attack, according to Reuters.
In May 2010, there were two suspected gas attacks on girls schools in the northern Kunduz province and in Kabul, Afghanistan’s capital. Similarly, in April 2010, at least 88 schoolgirls and teachers became ill after suspected poison gas attacks at schools in Kunduz Province. In May 2009, more than 150 students were also hospitalized in similar attacks.
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, probably 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.