Over the weekend, 77 girls from two primary schools were poisoned in Sar-e-Pu province in northern Afghanistan.
“A total of 77 students, seven teachers, five parents and an employee of Faizabad Girl School in Kabod Ab area of Sancharak district were poisoned but the condition of affected people is stable,” said Mufti Amir Saripuli, the Sari Pul provincial director for information and culture.
“Although the cause of this poisoning is not yet clear, local sources claim that symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, dizziness, heartburn and shortness of breath have been observed in the poisoned people,” Kolbarnews reported.
“Before this incident, armed people who identified themselves as affiliated with the Taliban had been seen in the district,” it added.
In the meantime, Mahnaz, mother of an affected student condemned the incident and called upon the provincial administration to identify and bring to justice those behind the crime.
On Monday, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) called on the Taliban to investigate the incident to hold those responsible accountable.
Schools “must be safe havens,” where women can work without endangering their lives, this multilateral institution said, referring to the female teachers who were also poisoned.
The Taliban have banned secondary and higher education for women since they came to power on August 15, 2021. Other gender-related restrictions include mandatory face coverings, segregation by sex, and requiring women to travel accompanied by a male relative.
In Dec. 2022, the authorities also prohibited women from working in non-governmental organizations. UN agencies and various international organizations severely condemned this ban as it considerably affects humanitarian aid projects.