Nearly 90 Afghan Schoolgirls Were Poisoned, Officials Suspect

In March last year, the Taliban administration barred girls from attending high schools and in November, it prohibited women from attending university. Women have also been barred from going to many public places like gyms and parks, traveling any significant distance without a male relative and working in most fields outside of the private sector and health care.

The government’s policies rolling back women’s rights have come to define how Western countries view the Taliban, diplomats and observers say, and have drawn near universal condemnation, including from Islamic governments like Iran and Saudi Arabia.

The problems at the two schools were first reported around 8 a.m. on Saturday, according to parents and local elders. Shortly after teachers began their lessons for the day at Kabod Aab School, two children began having convulsions and struggled to breathe.

The school administrator sent the two children home, assuming they had a common flu. But within 20 minutes, dozens of students began showing similar symptoms and were transferred by cars to a local clinic.

Qasim Qurban, 38, a farmer in the district, was working in his field when a neighbor ran up to him and told him that his daughters had fallen sick, he said. He went to the local clinic and found his 10-year-old daughter, Sabera, and 13-year-old daughter, Hadia, struggling through labored breaths. The two girls were then transferred to the provincial hospital.

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