Afghan police are questioning two school caretakers after as many as 171 women and girls were hospitalized after being poisoned at their school, reported CNN. The school employees were taken into custody in the town of Rostaq. Local health officials suspect extremists opposed to women's education are responsible for poisoning part of the school's drinking water.
"We are 100 percent sure that the water they drank in their classes was poisoned. This is either the work of those who are against girls' education or some other irresponsible armed individuals," said Jan Mohammad Nabizada, a spokesman for the education department in northern Takhar province, according to the Daily Mail.
Those affected are between the ages of 14 and 30, and are said to have suffered from headaches, nausea and vomiting. Some partially lost consciousness and are still in critical condition.
But according to Agence France-Presse, education ministry spokesman Abdul Saboor warned others not to jump to conclusions about the cause of the incident.
"According to our reports, a number of these schoolgirls were panicked and taken to hospital and they were then quickly dismissed," Saboor said to AFP. "But some others are still there. We think it is a small incident, but we are continuing our investigations."
Before the United States invaded Afghanistan in 2001, the Taliban had banned Afghan women and girls from attending school and working in offices, reported Fox News.
According to CNN, some say abuse of women is still common in post-Taliban Afghanistan, and is often accepted in conservative and traditional families, where women aren't allowed to attend school and are commonly subjected to domestic violence.
More from GlobalPost: Life Sentence: Women and justice in Afghanistan