Afghan authorities reported a suspected poison attack today against an all girls’ school in the northern province of Sar-i-Pul, but fell short of publicy accusing the Taliban of planning or conducting the attack.
Provincial education chief Abdul Ghafoor Sar-i-Puli told Khaama Press that an investigation has been launched but so far health officials have not found any traces of hazardous or toxic gases at the Hazrat Imam Zada Yahya high school where the incident took place. More than 100 students were rushed to a local hospital for treatment after scores of students fell ill and were reporting symptoms of headaches, fever, and nausea. Dr. Mohammad Haroon, chief of the provincial hospital, indicated that most of the sick students have been treated and sent home.
This is the ninth suspected poison attack in northern Afghanistan since April. So far this year, hundreds of students have fallen victim to suspected poison attacks against schools in Takhar, Khost, Bamyan, Kabul, and Nangarhar provinces, with a majority of these attacks occurring within the past three months.
Earlier this month, Afghan officials announced the capture of 14 individuals, including senior Taliban commanders, a Pakistani doctor, and several female students, who were all part of a “poison attack cell” in Takhar province. [For more information on previous poison attacks, see LWJ report, NDS arrests senior Taliban leader and 14 others linked to school poisonings.]