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Taliban use gas attack to terrorise girls: report

world Updated: May 13, 2009 12:33 IST

PTI
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The Taliban has resorted to "gas attack" to target girls as militants take to increasingly vicious methods to terrorise young women out of education, a news report said on Wednesday.

Women's education was banned under the Taliban and posters had started appearing warning local people not to let their daughters go to school. It was unclear if the incident was a deliberate attack on the school, though the Taliban and other extremist groups in Afghanistan who oppose girls' education have been known to target schoolgirls.

The Taliban was blamed after 90 pupils were poisoned in third attack on girls' school in three weeks. They were among girls rushed yesterday to hospital unconscious, possibly victims of a gas poisoning attack on their school in Afghanistan's Mahmud Raqi village in Kapisa province, The Independent newspaper said.

Zemeri Bashary, Interior Ministry spokesman, said officials suspected some sort of gas poisoning and police were investigating. Nato accused the Taliban this week of using white phosphorus.

According to headmistress Mossena, there was a strange odour which engulfed the courtyard as girls began retching uncontrollably. It was the third such attack against a girls' school in Afghanistan in as many weeks, raising fears that the insurgents are resorting to vicious methods to terrorise young women, the British daily said.

Police officials blamed Taliban sympathisers. "It looks like something was sprayed in the school but so far no one has been arrested," said Matiullah Safi, the provincial police chief.

The alleged poisoning comes just days after girls complained of similar symptoms at a school in Charikar, north of Kabul. Last November, more than a dozen girls and several teachers at the Mirwais School had acid thrown in their faces on the outskirts of Kandahar.

The Taliban denied involvement in the acid attacks but police claimed the men were paid by insurgents hired by rogue elements within the Pakistani intelligence agency, the report said. However, in a bid to avoid confrontation with Pakistan over the matter, President Hamid Karzai subsequently denied that there had been any Pakistani involvement.