About 100 girls were poisoned and hospitalized in two separate attacks on their elementary schools in northern Afghanistan, a local education official said on Monday.
This is believed to be the first time such an attack has taken place since the Taliban took power in August 2021 and began cracking down on the rights and freedoms of Afghan women and girls.
Girls are prohibited from studying beyond the sixth grade, including at university, and women are prohibited from working in most workplaces and public places.
A spokesman for the education department said the person who orchestrated the poisoning had a personal grudge, but did not elaborate.
The attacks took place in the province of Sari Pul on Saturday and Sunday.
About 80 female students were poisoned in the Sangcharak region, said Mohammad Rahmani, head of the provincial education department.
He said that 60 students were poisoned at the Naswan-i-Kabod Aab school and another 17 were poisoned at the Naswan-i-Faizabad school.
“Both elementary schools are close to each other and were attacked one after the other,” he told The Associated Press. “We transferred the students to the hospital and now they are all right.”
The department’s investigation is ongoing, Rahmani said, and initial inquiries show someone out of grudges paid a third party to carry out the attacks.
He did not provide information about how the girls were poisoned or the nature of their injuries. Rahmani did not name their ages, but said they were in grades 1 to 6.
Neighboring Iran has been rocked by a spate of poisonings, mostly in girls’ schools, since November last year.
Thousands of students said they were sick from the noxious fumes during these incidents. But there was no word on who might be behind the incidents or what chemicals were used.