Officials Probe Suspected Poisoning of Nearly 80 Afghan Students, Many of Them Girls

Many of the students were reportedly young girls between the ages of 6 and 12.

Credit: Getty Images
Credit: Getty Images

In 2 separate incidents this past weekend, nearly 80 students, along with their teachers, in Afghanistan were allegedly poisoned in their elementary schools. Many of the students were reportedly young girls between the ages of 6 and 12. “After reaching school in the morning, the students suddenly started feeling dizzy, headache, and nausea,” Mohammad Rahmani, the head of the Education Department in the northern Sar-e-Pul province, told CNN.

The assaults have rattled the local communities, as it mirrored recent attacks on schoolgirls in neighboring Iran, which has seen more than 300 suspected gas attacks in more than 100 girls schools, according to an April 2023 report by human rights watchdog Amnesty International.

“Everyone is scared, and we should be scared because the poisoning of the students is severe,” a parent of a teacher who was hospitalized in one of the incidents told The New York Times.

The issue of girls' access to education has been a point of contention in Afghanistan since the Taliban took back control of the country in 2021 and subsequently imposed harsh restrictions on women's academic opportunities and other freedoms.

The perpetrator of the suspected poisonings is unknown. However, the Taliban was accused of being responsible for other school poisonings that occurred before the group returned to power, per CBS.