Over 100 Afghan schoolgirls hospitalised for gas poisoning

May 12th, 2009 - 11:59 pm ICT by IANS  

Taliban Kabul, May 12 (DPA) More than 100 schoolgirls were taken to a hospital after a suspected gas attack on their school Tuesday, the third in series of such incidents in the past two weeks in northern Afghanistan, officials said.
The incident happened in Aftab Bachi school in Hesa Dohum district of northern Kapisa province when the students had lined up before their classes began, Enayatullah Karimi, a doctor in the provincial hospital, where the students were being treated, said.

The students complained from headache after smelling strange fumes in school’s yard, he said, adding that more than 100 students and 11 school teachers were admitted to the hospital.

Gholam Farouq Wardak, Education Minister said in a press conference that 104 students were released after treatment, while around 20 others were still receiving treatment in the provincial hospital.

Wardak said his ministry and police forces had launched an investigation to determine that what caused the mass hospitalisation.

The incident came a day after around 60 schoolgirls and two teachers were taken to hospitals in neighbouring Parwan province after an attack with the same suspected gas on their school.

More than 40 students were hospitalised in Parwan province late last month after authorities said that a girls’ school in the capital city was attacked by suspected airborne poisonous gas.

Afghan public health ministry officials said they have already sent blood samples to central laboratory in Kabul and a hospital in Bagram, the main US military base in the country, for testing.

It was unclear if the three incidents were the result of deliberate attacks on schools. No group has so far claimed responsibility for such incidents.

Militants with the Islamist extremist Taliban, who ruled Afghanistan for five years before being toppled in a US-led invasion in late 2001, have been behind several attacks on schools in southern and eastern Afghanistan in the past seven years.

The militants banned girls from attending schools during their regime, while women were not allowed to be seen in public unless accompanied by male members of their families.

A group of schoolgirls had acid thrown in their faces last year by a group of attackers in southern city of Kandahar. The Afghan government forces later arrested some of the attackers and identified them as members of the Taliban movement.

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