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120 Afghan Schoolgirls Poisoned to Thwart Women’s Education

In their latest attack to teach women a lesson for going against conservative laws and daring to study, the Taliban released an airborne chemical poison in a school in the Takhar province of Afghanistan. In the second attack of its kind on women’s schools in the province, scores of schoolgirls were left unconscious. Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security said that the Taliban appear intent on closing down schools teaching to women ahead of a 2014 withdrawal of NATO troops. More than 120 schoolgirls and three teachers were poisoned in the attack, as reported by Afghan police and education officials on Wednesday.

Officials said that Takhar province, where the attack took place, was a hotbed of radicals who were opposed to women’s education and maintain that men should have beards, and women should have no education.

NDS spokesman Lutfullah Mashal, while speaking on the Taliban, said “A part of their Al Farooq spring offensive operation is … to close schools. By poisoning girls they want to create fear. They try to make families not send their children to school.”

According to a report issued last week by Afghanistan’s Ministry of Education, at least 550 schools in 11 provinces have been shut down by the Taliban, who oppose all forms of education except what they teach. In all the 11 provinces, the Taliban have strong support and attacking schools and children makes spreading terror easy among families. People are ready to die themselves, but are not ready to see their children killed. So, the Islamic radicals have chosen schoolchildren and schools as their new targets for spreading terror.

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Last month, in the same Takhar province, at least 150 schoolgirls were poisoned by drinking water laced with unidentified toxins.

Women had been returning to schools in Afghanistan since U.S. backed forces toppled the Taliban in 2001. Under Taliban rule, women were banned from education and from work outside the home unless required by Taliban overlords and permitted by their families.

There are periodic attacks against students, teachers and school buildings in the Taliban infested south and eastern regions of the country which are close to Pakistan. The Taliban insurgency draws most of its support from these areas.

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