Doctors: 116 More Afghan Students, Mostly Girls, Poisoned

Posted June 19th, 2012 at 3:35 pm (UTC-5)
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Doctors in central Afghanistan say they are treating at least 116 Afghan students, mostly girls, after they became sick at school.

Health officials in Bamiyan province made the announcement Tuesday. For the past several weeks, hundreds of female students across Afghanistan have complained about noticing strange smells in their schools before becoming dizzy and nauseous and even fainting and vomiting in some cases.

Hospital officials in the province are investigating to see if any of the students show signs of having been poisoned.

No one has died in the incidents, and authorities have not found any traces of poison in the blood samples. Some experts suggest that a phenomenon called “mass hysteria” against the backdrop of Afghanistan's ongoing conflict could be behind the episodes.

But Afghan intelligence officials have accused the Pakistani military spy agency of being involved in the incidents. Pakistan has called the allegations “absurd and senseless.”

Other Afghan authorities have blamed the Taliban, saying they detained a group of people with insurgent ties after an incident in northern Afghanistan. However, Taliban officials have denied any involvement.

The Taliban in the past has been accused of targeting girls' schools with poison and acid attacks in an effort to close them down. Under the Taliban's rule, women were banned from working or going to school outside the home.