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KABUL – The recent mass poisonings of Afghan students were plotted in Miranshah, North Waziristan, Pakistan, which is considered by some to be militant headquarters, the Afghan National Directorate of Security (NDS) said June 25.
The Haqqani Network and Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) were involved in some, if not all, of the school poisonings, NDS officials contend.
Not long after the NDS made that observation, another attack occurred June 25, when as many as 100 girls were poisoned at the Rahmat Abad high school in Sar-e-Pul Province.
Tolo News said the victims, between the ages of 7 and 18, were taken to a hospital for treatment.
That was the third poisoning in three days in Sar-e-Pul, and a total of about 300 girls have been affected.
Earlier, on June 19, someone poisoned 116 students in the Karta-e-Solh School in Bamiyan Province.
“As soon I left the classroom, I smelled an odor,” said Nahid, one of the students who suffered a headache and stomach pains during the incident.
“All of the students have similar symptoms – which include headache, stomachache, and shivering – … proving that they all have been poisoned,” said Baber, a doctor at the Bamiyan provincial hospital.
Another poisoning occurred in Bamiyan Province about a month earlier. Nobody has been arrested in either of those cases, but arrests have been made in other poisoning cases.
Hundreds of students, mostly schoolgirls, have also been poisoned in incidents in Takhar, Balkh, Nangarhar and Khost provinces during the past few months.
The culprits have used two approaches – a liquid and a powder – in the attacks, the NDS said. The militants have sprayed liquid poisons in school yards and mixed the powder with drinking water, the NDS said in a statement June 6.
Further investigation showed the suspects received the poison and orders to attack from militants in Miranshah, the NDS said.
On June 5, after terrorists poisoned a girls’ high school in Khajeh Ghar District, Takhar Province, Afghan security forces caught two suspects in possession of large amounts of toxins.
Authorities later nabbed 13 other suspects in connection with one of the Takhar cases. Qari Khalil (a member of the IMU and the Taliban shadow deputy governor of Takhar) and Mullah Yaqub, a Taliban commander, were among those arrested.
Afghans say militants take advantage of poverty in pockets of the country, paying desperate Afghans to commit crimes against their countrymen, and some of the arrests in Takhar support this assessment.
Four of the suspects include schoolteacher Maulvi Najibullah and his wife, Bibi Aisha (Yaqub’s cousin), as well as Shukria and Sima Gul (ninth- and eleventh-grade students, respectively). And authorities say the students received 50,000 AFN ($1,000) in exchange for poisoning the Bibi Hajareh School.