At least 300 Afghan girls ranging in age from nine to 18 have been hospitalized this week after they appeared to be poisoned by a mysterious gas at schools in the Herat area.
Officials in the Herat Police District believe the incidents were deliberate, according to CNN
The gas leaks appeared to be similar at all three girl schools, Afghan officials told the Voice of America
Abdul Razaq Ahmadi, head of the Herat province education, said he believes the suspects were "enemies of education and growth." Ahmadi told VOA that locals needed to pay attention to the enemy's intentions.
When the country was ruled by the Taliban in the late 1990s, the regime outlawed education and jobs for girls and women in Afghanistan. Schools for girls have sporadically been attacked since the Taliban's departure.
Herat Regional Hospital spokesman Mohammad Rafiq Sherzai told CNN that 140 girls needed medical attention and were hospitalized from a mysterious gas leak on Monday. On Wednesday, 68 more girls became ill from a gas incident.
That was followed Thursday with 115 more girls needing hospital treatment after they were overcome with some type of gas, said Sherzai.
In April, Amnesty International issued a report called "Their Lives On the Line,"
in which the organization charged that the Afghanistan government was abandoning women human rights in the face of increasing violence, threats and assaults against them.
The document said women's rights supporters in the country – including doctors, teachers, lawyers, police and journalists – have been singled out by Taliban insurgents and warlords, along with government officials.
"Women human rights defenders from all walks of life have fought bravely for some significant gains over the past 14 years – many have even paid with their lives," Salil Shetty, Amnesty International's secretary general said when the report was released.
"It's outrageous that Afghan authorities are leaving them to fend for themselves with their situation more dangerous than ever. With the troop withdrawal nearly complete, too many in the international community seem happy to sweep Afghanistan under the carpet," said Shetty.
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