Afghan schoolgirls poisoned in anti-education attack

KUNDUZ, Afghanistan Tue Apr 17, 2012 6:53pm IST

A young Pashtun girl looks out from the window of a classroom during recess at a government funded coeducational school in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar September 20, 2005. REUTERS/Adrees Latif/Files

A young Pashtun girl looks out from the window of a classroom during recess at a government funded coeducational school in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar September 20, 2005.

Credit: Reuters/Adrees Latif/Files

KUNDUZ, Afghanistan (Reuters) - About 150 Afghan schoolgirls were poisoned on Tuesday after drinking contaminated water at a high school in the country's north, officials said, blaming it on conservative radicals opposed to female education.

Since the 2001 toppling of the Taliban, which banned education for women and girls, females have returned to schools, especially in Kabul.

But periodic attacks still occur against girls, teachers and their school buildings, usually in the more conservative south and east of the country, from where the Taliban insurgency draws most support.

"We are 100 percent sure that the water they drunk inside their classes was poisoned. This is either the work of those who are against girls' education or irresponsible armed individuals," said Jan Mohammad Nabizada, a spokesman for education department in northern Takhar province.

Some of the 150 girls, who suffered from headaches and vomiting, were in critical condition, while others were able to go home after treatment in hospital, the officials said.

They said they knew the water had been poisoned because a larger tank used to fill the affected water jugs was not contaminated.

"This is not a natural illness. It's an intentional act to poison schoolgirls," said Haffizullah Safi, head of Takhar's public health department.

None of the officials blamed any particular group for the attack, fearing retribution from anyone named.

The Afghan government said last year that the Taliban, which has been trying to adopt a more moderate face to advance exploratory peace talks, had dropped its opposition to female education.

But the insurgency has never stated that explicitly and in the past acid has been thrown in the faces of women and girls by hardline Islamists while walking to school.

Education for women was outlawed by the Taliban government from 1996-2001 as un-Islamic.

(Reporting by Mohammad Hamid; Writing by Jack Kimball, Editing by Rob Taylor and Sanjeev Miglani)

FILED UNDER:
Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

India-Pakistan Ties

REUTERS SHOWCASE

IS in India

IS in India

India says Islamic State not yet a threat  Full Article 

Ebola Outbreak

Ebola Outbreak

India to step up travel surveillance to stop any Ebola outbreak  Full Article 

Baghdad Bombing

Baghdad Bombing

Baghdad restaurant bombs kill 21  Full Article 

Diwali Pollution

Diwali Pollution

Delhi braces for worst air quality this Diwali week  Full Article 

Hong Kong Unrest

Hong Kong Unrest

Hong Kong students put their case to govt, but no breakthrough  Full Article 

Npeal Disaster

Npeal Disaster

Death toll in Nepal's worst trekking disaster reaches 43  Full Article 

West Indies Trouble

West Indies Trouble

West Indies board meet for crisis talks after India legal threat  Full Article 

Renta Remembered

Renta Remembered

Oscar de la Renta remembered for his elegant designs, generosity  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage