April 26th, 2010
07:33 AM ET

Taliban suspected of sickening female students

Afghan authorities will investigate the sudden illness of students and staff at three schools in the past week in northern Afghanistan, the Afghan Human Independent Rights Commission said on Sunday. Local doctors suggested the Taliban may be the perpetrators of possible poison attacks. 

"During the last seven days three cases of poisoning [have] occurred in Kunduz Province," said Syed Karim Talash, the director of the commission office in the province.

At least 88 girls and teachers became ill in separate cases at three girls' schools.

The cause of the illnesses was not known, but Talash said poison gas was suspected.

"It is really big concern for us, and big concern for the family of the girls," Talash said.

Dr. Mohammad Qasam Khamoosh, who treated girls from two schools, said "unknown gases" were responsible for the mass illnesses.

These are "terrorist activities against education in the country," he said.

Girls were not allowed to attend school during the Taliban's rule. Girls' schools have been open in the region since 2001.

Khamoosh said authorities were able to gather a sample of the gas, which has been sent off for testing.

Kunduz province has seen a drastic influx in terrorist activity, particularly by the group known as Hizb-e-Islami, led by the notorious leader Gulbudeen Hekmatyar. It's an independent group that has increasingly worked under the Taliban umbrella in recent years.

CNN's Atia Abawi and journalist Muhib Habibi contributed to this report.

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Filed under: Taliban
soundoff (29 Responses)
  1. artamesia

    I agree Mary, well done! There are many who have given to the world of humanity without religious beliefe. If a person wouild educated themselves they would know this,but wait I am a woman, I am not allowed to learn.

    August 25, 2010 at 8:53 am | Report abuse |
  2. Steven MacReady

    Well said, Mary Smith. Couldn't have put it better myself.

    May 3, 2010 at 9:12 am | Report abuse |
  3. Mary Smith

    To WTF, the reason you have never heard of non-religious aid groups is that non-religious aid groups do not waste donated funds to advertise themselves as such. Have you heard of "Doctors without Borders? No religious affiliation there. I have seven foster children in seven different countries. Some of these children are Molsem, some Roman Catholic, and one is a Buddhist. I chose Plan Canada as my preferred aid group because the Foster Parents Plan organization does not promote any religious affiliation. There are many examples of such groups. There is nothing admirable about using charity to promote a belief system. It is a form of cultural imperialism: Christian aid groups have frequntly used religion to promote European and North American politics and culture, (such as dress codes, names, and language), and now Islamic groups are promoting Arabic (specifically Wahabi) culture and politics in the name of their religion – why are converts to Islam wearing Arabic costumes, for example? There is nothing in the Koran that states that Moslems have to dress like Arabs. This is yet more imperialism using the protective cloak of religion. Why, one may ask, should calling a belief system a "religion" give it special status? Belief systems should be practiced by consenting adults in private not used as a cudgel to attack others. When President Bush was informed about the horrors being perpetrated on women by the Taliban, he claimed that it was nothing to do with the USA as it was just a question of religious and cultural differences. It is not only the Taliban who think that persecuting women is acceptable.

    April 27, 2010 at 8:40 pm | Report abuse |
  4. psmail2

    I still do not understand why Republicans are said to support "freedom fighters", but Democrats are said to support "terrorists"?

    April 27, 2010 at 8:11 pm | Report abuse |
  5. WTF

    @Haroun Eikram
    I'm not quite sure what your first insane, run on and on and on an on sentence paragraph was about, but as far as atheistic (run/funded/membered) aid organizations, please cite some of them so that we can all see what good deeds you and your ilk do for the hungry, suffering and miserable across the globe.

    @Jarheadwolf
    Right on, for the most part. I think (not from direct personal experience mind you) that some of the lower ranks of Taliban could be saved, but need opportunity of a different way of life. As history has dictated innumerable times in the past, it is easy for people to get swept up by a movement, then so as not to appear as hypocrites, rationalize ongoing participation. I believe that the key here, as with many of the misguided circumstances in the world, is some level of education, and opportunity. I'm not saying that everything should be handed down on a silver platter to anybody for they wouldn't value it then. Just that a little equity be meted out. As for the Taliban leadership, the only part of their demise that pains me is the tax dollar going towards the $5,000 $10,000 $100,000? rounds of ammunition we're using to kill one or two of them. Better that than losing a member of our military though.

    April 27, 2010 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Jarheadwolf

    Iraq Paramedic: Religion, like sexual preference, is best kept to ones self. The more that you preach, the more you will alienate yourself from others. Religion is a good moral compass, a set of guidelines (not rules) for how you can live and treat others. If someone is interested in your idea of God, they'll ask. If someone needs help and you think you can help, do so, but you don’t need to beat them over the head with your beliefs. If people like how you live and act towards others tell them how you learned this way of life...As far as the Taliban/Islamic extremists, they are beyond saving. The people that will free the Afghan's and others like them are the people being oppressed. Until they fight back and give good information on the whereabouts of the bad guys they will be living with this scourge. What’s needed in Afghanistan is, good human intelligence gathering policies, kind respectful treatment of the populace, small highly skilled international presence, and international oversight of the Afghan government to get rid of the dishonest people in it. Likelihood that this will happen, 0%. We may as well leave them to the Taliban and wait on our borders for the day that they will come to us. The U.S. Government is corrupt and broken and we are the “gold standard” for others? We are all doomed; it’s just a matter of time now. Hey Iraq Paramedic, I’m ready now, let’s start praying!

    April 27, 2010 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
  7. bugme143

    @Iraq Paramedic according to you there is only one true path, yet there are many paths. The only thing is, the Taliban tried to go on the path after they kicked back a few drinks. They truly believe that their God told them to do that stuff to keep things the way they are.

    April 27, 2010 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Kevin Moore

    Anytime someone tries to compel others to believe that their belief system is the only true religion you have repression and crime. As a Christian, I am ashamed of the Crusades. A Muslim friend of mine is horror stricken at the atrocities committed by the Taliban. Sadly, it took Anton LaVey, the author of the Satanic Bible to sum it up so succinctly it makes me ill. He said: "More evil has been done in the name of God than has ever been done in the name of Satan."

    The point is, you are entitled to your belief or non-belief. What you aren't entitled to is thinking and acting as if your belief system gives you the imprimatur to compel others to believe or not believe as you do.

    April 27, 2010 at 11:12 am | Report abuse |
  9. Haroun Eikram

    actually richard we do a lot and we don't do it just to please some god we do it because we care about people and im not saying that they are all evil ( except those child molesters) just stupid and you yourself cant get your nose out of the bible to notice things that other groups of people are doing

    April 27, 2010 at 10:57 am | Report abuse |
  10. Richard B

    Syed, well said. The Taliban are evil people. Fortunatley, not all religous people are evil – and despite Robert's opinion Christians are not slaves, quite the opposite. In my community all the soup kitchens are run by religous groups, the homes for battered women are run by religous groups. Most medical outreach to poor countries is performed by religous organizations. I am waitng for the atheists to step up to the plate, but it isn't happening.

    April 27, 2010 at 10:22 am | Report abuse |
  11. Robert

    Religion=Slavery

    April 27, 2010 at 9:01 am | Report abuse |
  12. Syed

    Taliban are crazy barbaric evil twisted people. They have nothing to do with the religion of Islam. Please don't be ignorant and understand the reality.

    April 27, 2010 at 8:24 am | Report abuse |
  13. Jim Smith

    Hekmatyar is a low life, and always has been, regardless of your religious orientation. There was a time when he had no affiliation with the Taliban, and he was a piece of dirt then too. Don't lump this jerk and his thugs into the company of any other group, and don't make this thing about religion. These guys will gladly kill anyone, regardless of their religion.

    April 26, 2010 at 11:28 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Michael

    Idiots in the Taliban. Cowards.

    April 26, 2010 at 11:25 pm | Report abuse |
  15. JustMyThoughts

    I hope they catch the vermin responsible for this and publicly draw and quarter them in the middle of a taliban training camp.

    April 26, 2010 at 11:13 pm | Report abuse |
  16. Haroun Eikram

    i agree its time to stop believing in some damn god tell me you freaking religious jerks what has your ruddy god ever done huh hurricanes earthquakes violence murder i could go on all day i realized this when i was ten and i never looked back time for people to get there head out of the clouds and work for a better future to many things are done because of religion wars death violence hate entire races have been wiped out because of religion and if i go to another confessional booth ( i am atheist screw god this was a test) and one more damn priest tells me god is just giving us a test of faith ill scream if thats the case then god need more attention than those spoiled 16 year old girls on tv and some one need to slap some since into it cause i and worshipping some attention craving jerk so every one who reads this i say throw down your bibles quran torahs and any other religious writing and instead of spending time on sunday worshipping a dying half naked guy on a ruddy stick go spend time with a friend family help some one exercise ( america needs it ) have a lemonade stand or have a food drive but not this crap any more i am only 16 and i realize this you people are like thirty and you still don't get it i could go on all day but ill end it here till some other time so with that note screw god and you religious fanatics i am going to do something with my life instead of worshipping a dead guy

    April 26, 2010 at 9:57 pm | Report abuse |
  17. bailoutsos

    About 2o years ago this would have been classified information under the Reagan/Cheney CIA and America never would have heard about it because the Taliban were America's allies.

    April 26, 2010 at 8:37 pm | Report abuse |
  18. Mike

    Religion is the root of all eviel.

    April 26, 2010 at 6:57 pm | Report abuse |
  19. David

    Atheist and Davec,

    Your disbelief in religion is certainly your right, at least here in America, but you condemn all religion as if atheists and non-believers never do wrong. Watch the video posted on CNN of New Yorkers watching as a good samaritan dies of stab wounds on the street and try and convince yourself that a source of a little morality and human kindness training is not needed in this world. Certainly a lot of bad has been done in the name of religion, but a lot of good has as well.

    David

    April 26, 2010 at 6:23 pm | Report abuse |
  20. kuk

    Raping boys is pretty comonplace in the Stan countries – watch some disovery channel, its not just catholic priests, its all of afganistan, iraq, iran, etc.

    April 26, 2010 at 6:13 pm | Report abuse |
  21. Daniel-2

    I too read about the Taliban doing this,but just how true is it? No one knows,but the right-wing media will do everything they can to make the Taliban look guilty,of course.And most of the American public wants it to be that way,but we'll never know.

    April 26, 2010 at 5:53 pm | Report abuse |
  22. Atheist

    The Taliban are a form of mafia that terrorizes the population. They threaten families to gain support and disfigure and murder little girls for wanting to read and gain education. They violate the basic human rights of half the population.

    Iraq Paramedic - enough of your God nonsense. All religions are vile. Don't forget that your priests rape little boys.

    April 26, 2010 at 5:41 pm | Report abuse |
  23. Jack W

    Knowledge is power. Deny knowledge, deny power.

    April 26, 2010 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse |
  24. Tomster

    Chuckster, I agree. The problem is, you cant just point one out in a crowd. What about the ones who are supporting the Taliban only because they dont want their families killed. Easier said, than done my friend......

    April 26, 2010 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
  25. Davec

    Taliban: Religion run amok. Wake up people, it's the year 2010 and time to stop believing in a magic man who lives in the sky, reads your mind 24/7, and can give you eternal bliss or eternal hell. You are an animal – a thinking animal – but an animal nevertheless. Now stop this silly praying to an imaginary being and live your one and only life.

    April 26, 2010 at 2:04 pm | Report abuse |
  26. Chuckster

    What kind of low life POS would poison kids???? This should be reason enough to go all out and announce "OPEN SEASON" on the Taliban. These people are COCKROACHES who deserve nothing more than DEATH!!!!!

    April 26, 2010 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse |
  27. Iraq Paramedic

    And the Taliban wonder why the rest of the world, at least the human civilized world, wants then gone. They attack little girls & teach their young boys this stuff. I am a christian & try to live by GOD's word but, men like the Taliban & those who follow their ways are not men but demons in flesh that are perverting the words GOD gave to Ishmael. GOD said through his son JESUS CHRIST of Nazareth that who ever harms the children & keeps them from coming to him it will be better for that man to tie a rope around his neck & jump into the deep ocean than what GOD has prepared for him in hell. The great war Ezekeil & John spoke of is close at hand.
    May GOD Bless & keep us all !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    April 26, 2010 at 11:31 am | Report abuse |
  28. Vivian Hansten, Sonora CA

    This shows us the importance of the schools. If the Taliban are so afraid of education of girls, we can see that the schools are our best weapon against them.

    April 26, 2010 at 11:28 am | Report abuse |