Taliban Suspected of Poisoning School Girls

Posted on April 26, 2010 by Mike

There has been a series of poisonous gas attacks against school girls in Afghanistan.  The most recent occurred on Sunday in Kunduz province, in which at least 13 girls fell ill.  They reported symptoms such as headaches, vomiting and shivering.  On Saturday, 47 girls from a different school had reported feeling dizzy and nauseous, while on Wednesday 23 girls said they felt ill.

One of the girls (age 13) in the most recent incident said that when she stepped out of the classroom she “smelled a strange odour and then fainted.”  A 12-year old girl said that she was in class “when a smell like a flower reached my nose.  I saw my classmates and my teacher collapse and when I opened my eyes I was in hospital.”

Girls’ schools have been attacked in similar fashion in other parts of Afghanistan over the past few years.  In 2008, around 15 girls and teachers in Kandahar were sprayed with acid by men on motorbikes.

The Taliban denies responsibility for the attacks (and “condemned the targeting of school girls”), but they are suspect because during their rule from 1996-2001, girls were banned from attending school.  Even now, with the Taliban supposedly out of power, schools for girls in parts of southern and eastern Afghanistan remain closed.  Specifically in Kunduz, the Taliban has obtained much control and has clamped down on women, including a restriction that girls are only allowed to attend school for the first three years.  (There must have been some interesting thought processes leading up to that decision.  It’s okay for girls to go to school for three years but not four?  Not five?  Not more?  It would be laughable to hear the Taliban trying to give justification for that particular edict.)

If not the Taliban, then the attacks have been done by groups who agree with the Taliban that girls should not go to school.  Specifically, the Kunduz province has seen a large increase in terrorist activity and much of that has been done by a group called Hizb-e-Islami that, technically, is an independent group but has increasingly worked under the Taliban umbrella in recent years.

Thankfully, none of the symptoms experienced by the girls are reported to be serious. However, the attacks are having a large impact, as seen by the comment by one of the girls in the Sunday attack that “I don’t think my parents will allow me to attend the school after this incident.”

I’m against the United States having any military troops in Afghanistan.  However, my thoughts are always tempered by knowing how bad the Taliban are.  Poisonous gas attacks against school girls are about as bad as they can get.

Filed under: Education, International, Religion, Violence | Tagged: , , ,

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