Suspected Poisoning of 156 Female Students Being Investigated

18 Apr 2012

Suspected Poisoning of 156 Female Students Being Investigated

KABUL - Afghan authorities have launched an investigation into the suspected poisoning of 156 female students attending a public school in Rostaq District of Takhar Province.

According to the Ministry of Education in Kabul, poisonous chemical were added into the well-water of Central Girls High School in Rostaq on Tuesday, causing severe headaches, dizziness and nausea for students and teachers alike.

“The victims were rushed to the hospital for immediate treatment and the majority of them were released to their parents by late night,” said Mohammad Hussain, the District Governor of Rostaq. “Only six of the victims are still in the hospital.”
A team of medical doctors has taken water sample from the well for laboratory testing. So far no one has claimed responsibility for the poisoning.

This is not the first attempt to victimize female students in Afghanistan. Similar incidents have taken place in Kandahar and Kapisa.

“This happened in an area where we had not expected such an incident would happen due to comparatively better security conditions. Education is the pillar of society and the enemies of Afghanistan want to weaken the country by striking its foundation,” said Amanullah Iman, a spokesman for the Ministry of Education in Kabul.

The Ministry of Education has a plan in hand to protect schools from insurgent attacks. Currently 14,000 schools operate throughout Afghanistan of which 11,000 have Education Support Committees. These committees are made up of local elites and are responsible for providing protection to local schools.

“There are plans to establish Education Support Committees in the rest of the 3,000 schools during the next year,” said Amanullah Iman.

The Afghan Ministry of Education claims it has made significant progress in preventing sabotage against the education system despite the worsening security in Afghanistan.

“We successfully launched 210 new schools last year in insecure areas of the country, which is a reflection that support for education has increased,” said Amanullah Iman.