Afghan girls hospitalised after possible gas poisoning

Hundreds of school girls taken to hospital after a suspected poison gas attack in Afghanistan.

HERAT, AFGHANISTAN (SEPTEMBER 7, 2015) (REUTERS) – Around 300 Afghan girls from three different schools were taken to hospital on Monday (September 7) for treatment after suspected gas poisoning, officials said, taking to six the number of similar attacks in western Afghanistan over the past week.

One of the students described what happened.

“We were in the class when our teacher came and told us that there was a gas sprayed in the classroom. We went out of the class and few minutes later our situation worsened and we were taken to hospital,” said Bass Gul, 14, a schoolgirl in the hospital.

During Taliban rule from 1996 to 2001, girls and women were banned from education and the workplace.

The Islamist group was ousted by a U.S.-led military coalition and is now waging an increasingly violent insurgency against the foreign-backed government.

However, some elements of Afghanistan’s ultra-conservative society continue to oppose education for girls and schools have periodically been attacked.

The school girls were hospitalized for hours in Herat province after breathing in toxic gas, said Mohammad Rafiq Shirzai, a spokesman for the health department in Herat.

“We have received around 300 girls and their teachers in the hospital after they were breathed in toxic gas at their school in Enjil district,” Shirzai said.

Special security measures have been taken at girls’ schools in the province and three students have been sent to a NATO-run compound in Herat city to be examined, said Ehsanullah Hayat, a spokesman for the provincial governor.

More than 100 girls were taken to hospitals in the same district last month after breathing in toxic gas.