Taliban Vow Action After More Than 80 Schoolgirls Reportedly Poisoned In Afghanistan

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More than 80 elementary-aged schoolgirls were reportedly poisoned in two separate incidents in Afghanistan over the weekend, prompting the Taliban to vow to find the culprits behind the incidents.

The first incident reportedly occurred June 3  at the Kabud Aab School for girls in Afghanistan’s Sar-e-Pul province, CBS News reported. In that alleged attack, 63 people were sickened, including three female teachers and one male teacher, the outlet stated, citing a report from the regional governor’s office. On June 4, a similar incident allegedly occurred in the same district, sickening 22 female students and four female teachers at the Faizabad School, CBS News reported.

Although officials have not been able to determine the type of poison that was allegedly used against the students, all of those who were hospitalized suffered from nausea and shortness of breath, which officials attribute to an aerosol poison, the outlet stated.

Taliban officials, who took over the country almost two years ago now, have vowed to find the culprits behind the alleged poisonings, though some activists claim the Taliban are to blame, even if they aren’t directly involved.

“How can the Taliban claim that they have been able to bring security while two schools in Sar-e-Pul — only girls’ schools — are being targeted?” Fawzia Koofi, a former member of Afghanistan’s parliament, asked CBS News. “This is part of the kind of gender apartheid measures that are taken against women and girls in Afghanistan to create an atmosphere of fear.”

Since taking over the country, the Taliban has issued several measures banning girls over the age of 12 from Afghan classrooms. The Taliban has also banned women from obtaining a college education, leading Sodaba Bayani, an Afghan education and women’s rights activist, to believe they are actually behind the attacks to discourage parents from sending their girls to school. (RELATED: US Diplomat Calls For ‘#BlackGirlMagic’ In Afghanistan, Requests Advice From Lizzo And Beyoncé) 

In the two years since the Taliban has taken over the country, however, they have faced mounting challenges from a rising ISIS faction which has attacked the Taliban and “symbolic targets,” as well as Shi’a Muslim minorities, CNN reported.

A doctor in Sar-e-Pul province, who did not wish to be named, told CBS News that in the wake of the alleged attacks against the schoolgirls, local Taliban officials were quick to provide healthcare to those affected.