Outrage of the Day- Afghan Schoolgirls Attacked

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"Afghan officials accused militants of launching a poison gas attack today that caused dozens of schoolgirls to collapse with headaches and nausea as they waited for a Qu'ran reading.
The Taliban and other Islamist groups have regularly attacked girls' schools in Afghanistan, and the second apparent poisoning in two days has raised concerns that they have found a new weapon to scare girls into staying at home.
Students were gathering in the yard of Aftab Bachi school in Mahmud Raqi, in Kapisa province, for a morning reading of the Qu'ran when a strange odour filled the area. First one girl collapsed, then others, the school's headteacher, Mossena, said from her
hospital bed. Teachers told the rest of the students to go home. Mossena said she did not know what happened next because she too collapsed.
At least 98 people were admitted, including 84 students, 11 teachers and two cleaners, said Khalid Enayat, the hospital's deputy director. He said doctors were monitoring the condition of about 30 students.
The incident was the third alleged poisoning at a girls' school in a matter of weeks. Yesterday, 61 schoolgirls and one teacher went to hospital in the neighbouring Parwan province with a sudden illness that caused some to pass out. In late April, dozens of girls were taken to hospital in Parwan after being sickened by what officials said were strong fumes or a possible poison gas cloud.
"The enemies of Afghanistan are behind this poisoning," said the Kapisa education director, Abdul Gani Hedayat. "I am 100% certain it is poison. Ninety-eight people suddenly fell sick. This isn't something that happens just normally." He said blood samples had been sent to the capital, Kabul, for testing.
An interior ministry spokesman, Zemeri Bashary, said officials suspected some sort of gas poisoning in Kapisa, and police were still investigating.
The Kapisa patients complained of similar symptoms to those in the Parwan incidents, including headaches, vomiting and shivering, said Aziz Agha, a doctor treating the girls.
Sonya Sidiqi, 13, said she smelled something like cigarette smoke, "then my head started hurting and I started throwing up". Sidiqi said she was feeling better after resting at the hospital but was still dizzy and nauseous.
Another pupil, 11-year-old Tahira, said she planned to go back to school when she recovered, but was afraid to do so. "I'm going to be scared when I go back to school. What if we die?" she said.
Conservative groups in Afghanistan oppose education for girls, who were not allowed to attend school under the 1996-2001 Taliban regime. Militants in the south have previously assaulted schoolgirls by spraying acid in their faces and burning down schools. Scores of Afghan schools have been forced to close because of violence.
North-east Afghanistan, where the three recent apparent poisonings have taken place, is typically less conservative. No group has claimed responsibility for the mass illnesses.
A Parwan education official said no evidence of an attack had been found after yesterday's incident. He said one student had fallen seriously ill before the others, and suggested some of the symptoms could have been psychological. A Parwan health official said they were awaiting blood test results."

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