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Afghan school poisonings sign of Taliban’s disrespect for girls
At least 17 suspects detained in string of poisonings
KABUL – Afghan citizens say the poisonings of schoolgirls are evidence of insurgent brutality and disrespect toward women and girls.
“Those groups that conduct such practices are extremely cruel and are miles away from humanity and the Islamic teachings,” Hassiba, a female student in Takhar Province told Central Asia Online.
On June 3, 45 female students at Nahid Shahid school, in the Farkhar District of Takhar Province, were poisoned, said Mustapha Rasouli, the spokesperson for Takhar governor. It was the sixth such attack in recent months, Rasouli said.
A Takhar Province security official June 6 said 17 people had been detained in connection with recent poisonings, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) reported.
Those arrested include Afghans and "foreigners," including a physician from Pakistan, officials said.
Afghan security forces had previously reported the arrest of four individuals in connection with the poisonings, however it was not clear if those four are among the 17 announced Wednesday.
Who is responsible?
No one has claimed has responsibility for the poisonings, and the Taliban have denied responsibility.
Fawzia Koofi, chairwoman of Women's Affairs Commission in the Afghan House of Representatives, told Central Asia Online that the Taliban’s disavowal of involvement in these poisonings is not credible, considering the group’s long history of opposition to females attending schools.
However, initial assessments by security agency and Afghan Health Ministry representatives, indicate that Hizb ut-Tahrir and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan are behind the attacks, she said.
The Health Ministry said blood tests conducted on the poisoned girls have not shown any specific type of poisons, Fawzia said. This, however, is not an acceptable answer for the representatives. And some reports from Takhar Province indicate that insects in one of the classrooms died during a poisoning attack.
Families are worried
The repeated poisonings at schools in northern and eastern Afghanistan, mostly in Takhar Province, over the past two months have caused concerns for the students and their families.
Hamidullah, a resident of Taloqan, the capital of Takhar Province, said his cousin, a poisoning victim, suffered from severe dizziness for days. She recovered physically, after being sent to Pakistan for hospitalisation, but she is still traumatised, he said.
The people of Takhar have decided to co-operate with the government in order to ensure the security of the schools, Hamidullah said.
Officials are devoting incredible energy to investigating the poisonings, said Shafiqullah Tahiry, the Deputy Director of the Afghan National Directorate of Security (NDS). He said he expects good results.
Other recent poisonings include:
- On April 17, 100 schoolgirls in Takhar Province were made ill by poisoned water.
- On May 9, a poisoning in Balkh Province, in the north, affected 27 schoolgirls and teachers.
- On May 15, 380 schoolboys were poisoned in Khost Province, in eastern Afghanistan.
- On May 23, more than 123 girls and 3 teachers were poisoned in Taloqan.
- And on May 28, 45 female students were also at Bibi Hajareh School, in Taloqan.