Afghan Schoolgirls Poisoned

AFP via Bloomberg
, April 30, 2004

Three schoolgirls were poisoned in southeastern Afghanistan in an incident blamed on the Taliban militia, the country's former rulers, Agence France-Presse said, citing local military and government officials.

Vikram Parekh, from the International Crisis Group, said there had been a series of attacks on girls' schools, particularly in the south of the country, in recent months but this was the first time children had been attacked.

"A girl's school was recently burnt to the ground in Kandahar and others have been attacked, but this is a horrible development to see that the girls themselves would be targeted," he told the Guardian.

The Guardian , May 3, 2004

The girls aged between 10 and 15 are in critical condition after eating biscuits given to them by a man on Wednesday in the town of Khost, AFP cited Shahina Sharif, spokeswoman for the provincial department of Women's Affairs, as saying. The girls attend the only school in Khost that accepts females, AFP said.

The Taliban is seeking to "deter girls from going to school,'' AFP cited Khialbaz Khan, the provincial military commander, as saying. Taliban spokesman Litfullah Hakimi denied the allegation in a statement to AFP from an undisclosed location.

Women's activities were restricted under the Taliban regime, ousted in December 2001. The militia's strict interpretation of Islamic law included banning women from working and girls from going to school. Two schools near Kandahar in southern Afghanistan were burned down on Wednesday by suspected Taliban supporters, AFP reported earlier.

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