Afghan girls' poisoning being probed

May 12, 2009 at 3:35 PM

KABUL, Afghanistan, May 12 (UPI) -- Doctors were investigating whether school girls were poisoned in a northern Afghanistan city after 61 girls were taken to a hospital, a doctor said.

Dr. Khalil Farangi, director of Charikar's hospital, said 61 students and one teacher from a high school in the city complained Monday of symptoms such as irritability, weeping and confusion, and several girls fainted, PakTribune reported Tuesday.

The hospitalizations Monday occurred about two weeks after a similar incident in Parwan, where dozens of girls were hospitalized after becoming ill from what Afghan officials said were strong fumes or possible poison gas cloud.

The Taliban and other conservative extremist groups in Afghanistan oppose education for girls, who were not allowed to attend school under the 1996-2001 Taliban regime.

Officials said so far they couldn't determine whether the latest incident was because of an attack, but noted militants have attacked female students elsewhere by spraying acid in their faces and torching schools to protest the government.

Doctors said they sent blood samples to Kabul and the U.S. base in Bagram to test whether some form of poison was present, Farangi said.

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