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Nearly 80 girls in Afghanistan poisoned at schools, hospitalized, education official says

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Nearly 80 young girls in Afghanistan were poisoned in two separate attacks over the weekend, according to a local education official. 

The attacks were said to have taken place in the northern Sar-e-Pul province over Saturday and Sunday.  

This is a locator map for Afghanistan with its capital, Kabul. (AP Photo) (AP Photo)

Mohammad Rahmani, who heads the provincial education department, told The Associated Press that female students, in grades 1 through 6, were poisoned in Sangcharak district. He said 60 students were poisoned in Naswan-e-Kabod Aab School and 17 others were poisoned in Naswan-e-Faizabad School

“Both primary schools are near to each other and were targeted one after the other,” he told The Associated Press. “We shifted the students to hospital and now they are all fine.”

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The department’s investigation is ongoing and initial inquiries show that someone with a grudge paid a third party to carry out the attacks, Rahmani said, without elaborating. He gave no information on how the girls were poisoned or the nature of their injuries. 

It is thought to be the first time this kind of assault has happened since the Taliban swept to power in August 2021 and began their crackdown on the rights and freedoms of Afghan women and girls.

Girls are banned from education beyond sixth grade, including university, and women are barred from most jobs and public spaces.

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The attack has recalled a wave of poisonings in neighboring Iran targeting school-age girls, dating back to November. Thousands of students said they were sickened by noxious fumes in the incidents. But there has been no word on who might be behind the incidents or what — if any — chemicals have been used. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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