Nearly 80 girls were poisoned and hospitalized in two separate attacks at elementary schools in northern Afghanistan, a local education official said Sunday.
It is believed to be the first such attack since the Taliban came to power in August 2021 and began cracking down on the rights and freedoms of Afghan women and girls.
Girls are barred from education beyond the sixth grade, including university, and women are barred from most jobs and public spaces.
Those who planned the poisoning had a personal vendetta, the education official said, without elaborating.
The attacks took place in Sar-e-Pul province on Saturday and Sunday.
Provincial Education Minister Mohammad Rahmani said nearly 80 schoolgirls were poisoned in Sangcharak district. He said 60 students were poisoned at Naswan-e-Kabod Aab School and another 17 students were poisoned at Naswan-e-Faizabad School.
“Two elementary schools are in close proximity and one after the other they are being targeted,” he told The Associated Press. “We transferred the students to the hospital and they are all fine now.”
Rahmani said the department’s investigation was ongoing and preliminary investigations indicated that someone with a grudge paid a third party to carry out the attack.
Read it here: 16 injured in violent blast in Afghanistan’s Baghlan
He provided no information on how the girl was poisoned or the nature of her injuries. Rahmani did not reveal their ages but said they were in grades 1 to 6.
Neighboring Iran has been rocked by a wave of poisonings dating back to November, mostly in girls’ schools. Thousands of students said they were sickened by the toxic fumes from the events. But there’s no word yet on who might be behind the incidents, or what — if any — chemicals were used.