Afghan police question school workers about suspected poisoning
Two school caretakers are being questioned by police in Afghanistan after 171 women and girls were admitted to hospital on Tuesday with suspected poisoning, according to CNN.
The victims range in age from 14 to 30 and were taken to a hospital in Afghanistan’s north-eastern Takhar province after their school’s water tank was contaminated, according to Dr Hafizullah Safi, the provincial health department director.
It is believed by local health officials that the drinking water had been poisoned by extremists opposed to women’s education.
A sample of the water has been sent to Kabul for testing, but it will be several days before the results are confirmed.
The women were hospitalised on Tuesday complaining of symptoms including stomach pains, fever and vomiting, most were medicated and released but four remained semi-conscious in the hospital on Wednesday.
Dr Safi said: “Looking at the health condition of these girls, I can definitely say that their water was contaminated by some sort of poison. But we don’t know yet what was the water exactly contaminated with.”
District administrator Moelam Hussain said: “It is the work of those who are against girls’ education and peace and stability in Afghanistan.”
The district governor Mohammad Hussain, agreed. He told AFP ”I think some radical elements who oppose girls going to school are behind this act,” adding that police were looking into the incident, according to Fox News.
According to CNN there were a similar series of poisonings in 2010, when more than 100 schoolgirls and teachers fell ill.
Before 2001, the Taliban had banned many Afghan girls from attending school, though the schools began reopening after the regime was toppled by the US-led invasion, according to Fox News.