Officials accused extremist militants Tuesday of launching a poison gas attack on Afghan Girls School that caused at least 94 people hospitalized in north eastern Afghanistan.
At least 98 people were admitted to a hospital for headaches and vomiting, including 84 students, 11 teachers and two cleaners, said Khalid Enayat, the hospital’s deputy director in Muhmud Raqi.
The Taliban and other Islamic fundamentalists have regularly attacked girls schools in Afghanistan and it was the second apparent poisoning in two days.
Students were gathering in the yard of Aftab Bachi School in Muhmud Raqi for a morning reading of the Quran when a strange odor filled the area. First one girl collapsed, then others, said the school's principal, Mossena.
I saw several students fall down on the ground, said Mossena, who like many Afghans goes by one name. On Monday, 61 schoolgirls and one teacher went to hospital in neighboring Parwan province with a sudden illness that caused some to pass out. Tuesday's incident is the third alleged poisoning at a girls school in about two weeks.
I am 100 percent certain it is poison, said Abdul Gani Hedayat, an Kapisa education director.Ninety-eight people suddenly fell silk, this isn't something that happens just normally. he said blood samples had been sent to Kabul for testing.
Interior Ministry Spokesman Zemeri Bashary said officials suspect some sort of gas poisoning, and that police were still investigating.
Under the Taliban's 1996-2001 regime, girls were not allowed to attend school. Militants in the south have previously assaulted schoolgirls by spraying acid in their faces and burning down schools to protest the government.
Scores of Afghan schools have been forced to close because of violence. The first apparent poison attack took place late last month in Parwan where dozens of girls were hospitalized after being sickened by what Afghan officials said were strong fumes or a possible poison gas cloud.
The recent poison gas attack is a less personal way to scare girls away from school than the acid attacks in the south, which sparked an international outcry.
Education Ministry Spokesman Asif Nang said they were helping the schools in Kapisa and Parwan to tighten security. This was an attack by the enemies of the Afghan people, enemies of education, enemies of development and enemies of the future of Afghanistan's people, said Nang.