80 Schoolgirls in Afghanistan Poisoned: Disturbing New Assault

On June 4th, a local education official in Afghanistan reported that dozens of schoolgirls were victims of two separate attacks in their primary schools in the northern part of the country. The female students were sent to hospitals after being poisoned.

The attacks were considered the first of their kind since the Taliban seized power in August 2021 after a US-led military coalition left the country and after the Taliban imposed a wide-sweeping crackdown and restrictions on women’s rights and freedoms.

According to Mohammad Rahmani, the head of the education department in the northern province of Sar-e-Pul, where the poisonings took place, the attacks occurred on June 3rd and 4th, where nearly 80 female students were poisoned at two separate schools in the district of Sangcharak.

Rahmani said around 60 female students were poisoned in Naswan-e-Kabod Aab School, while 17 schoolgirls of the Naswan-e-Faizabad School were targeted.

“Both primary schools are near to each other and were targeted one after the other,” Rahmani told the Associated Press. “We shifted the students to hospital, and now they are all fine."

The education official also said investigations are ongoing. Initial examinations of the incident showed that the suspect who orchestrated the poisoning attacks had a personal grudge and paid a third party to carry out the assaults. Besides these details, Rahmani did not provide further information on the attack or the suspect.

Rahmani also did not give more information about the female victims, such as the nature of their injuries, how they were poisoned, or even their ages. However, the education official said the schoolgirls were in Grades 1 to 6.

Like Afghanistan, its neighbor Iran was also rocked by a series of poisonings primarily targeted against girls’ schools as early as November 2022. Thousands of female students in Iran reported being poisoned by noxious fumes in the incidents. Despite investigations into these cases, there has been no information about the chemicals used for the incidents or who was behind the attacks.

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