Connect to share and comment

Afghan poisoning: 160 schoolgirls admitted to hospital after third poisoning in recent weeks

Officials blamed the Taliban for the poisoning of 160 Afghani schoolgirls, who were admitted to a hospital in Takhar province Tuesday.

Afghanistan school poisoningEnlarge
Afghan schoolgirls lie in beds in a hospital in Kabul on August 28, 2010, as they receive treatment for suspected poisoning at their school. Several schoolgirls, teachers and schoolboys fell ill and were taken to hospital after a suspected gas poisoning at the school in the Afghan capital, the second during the last four days in a country where during the Taliban regime education for women was forbidden. (YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images)

An Afghan poisoning sent 160 schoolgirls to a hospital in Takhar province on Tuesday, the third incident of its kind in recent weeks, CNN reported

Officials suspect the classrooms might have been sprayed with a toxic material before the girls arrived, in an attempt to keep the young women from attending class, CNN reported. 

The Taliban denied carrying out such poisoning attacks over the weekend, but BBC News correspondents say that local Taliban groups acting independently have admitted responsibility for some of them. 

"The Afghan people know that the terrorists and the Taliban are doing these things to threaten girls and stop them going to school," police spokesman Khalilullah Aseer said last week, according to CNN. "That's something we and the people believe. Now we are implementing democracy in Afghanistan and we want girls to be educated, but the government's enemies don't want this."

More from GlobalPost: Afghan school poisoning: As many as 171 women and girls poisoned by extremists (VIDEO)

The schoolgirls, aged between 10 and 20, were taken to the hospital after complaining of headaches, dizziness and vomiting, Hafizullah Safi, director of the provincial health department, told CNN. The health department collected their blood samples, which are being sent to Kabul to be tested. 

Reuters reported that over 120 schoolgirls and three teachers were poisoned last week. In April, 170 girls were taken to the hospital after suffering a similar incident. 

Also last week, Afghanistan's Ministry of Education said that 550 schools in 11 provinces where insurgents maintain a strong presence have been shut down, according to Reuters. 

Afghan girls were not allowed to attend school over the course of the Taliban's rule, from 1996 to 2001, CNN reported. However, schools reopened after the regime was toppled in 2001 by the US-led coalition's invasion. 

More from GlobalPost: NATO: Women's rights must be part of future plans in Afghanistan