70 Afghan schoolgirls sickened by unknown aerosol

Kabul, May 1 (EFE).- At least 70 students at a girl's school in Kabul fainted on Wednesday as a result of apparent poisoning, the latest of a series of similar cases in Afghanistan.

The incident occurred early in the morning at Sultan Razia school, according to what Education Ministry spokesman Amanula Aiman told Efe.

The girls, ranging in age from 12 to 18, were standing in line at the door of the school to enter their respective classrooms and suddenly they began fainting.

"More than 70 girls were poisoned. We're investigating what happened. It's not clear why they lost consciousness," said Aiman.

Media outlets said the girls breathed in a chemical substance that was distributed in the area in the form of a spray or aerosol.

The students were transported to nearby hospitals and some of them have been released but many others continue to suffer assorted symptoms, including vomiting, Aiman said.

Poisoning cases at girls' schools are rather frequent in Afghanistan and generally are surrounded by a certain amount of mystery.

In July 2012, at least 100 students fainted in a similar incident on the outskirts of Kabul.

Many analysts blame the poisonings on the Taliban, but spokesmen for the rebel group have denied any involvement.

The Taliban, however, are opposed to educating girls and prohibited it during their 1996-2001 rule.