August 25th, 2010
10:04 AM ET

Officials: Schoolgirls, teachers sick from poison gas

Dozens of schoolgirls and teachers were sickened Wednesday by poison gas in Afghanistan, medical and government officials said.

The latest incident, this one at a high school, is the ninth such case involving the poisoning of schoolgirls, said Asif Nang, spokesman for the nation's education ministry.

Dr. Kabir Amiri said 59 students and 14 teachers were brought to the hospital, and were faring better.

"We don't have good equipment to verify the kind of gas that they were poisoned with, but we have taken their blood tests to send to Turkmenistan for verifying the type of gas" that was used, Amiri said.

Many Afghan girls were not allowed to attend school during the Taliban's rule from 1996 to 2001. Girls' schools began reopening after the Islamist regime was toppled. The United Nations children's agency, UNICEF, estimates that 2 million Afghan girls attend school these days.

But female educational facilities, students and teachers have come under vicious attack as the insurgency has strengthened and spread from Taliban strongholds in the southern provinces of Kandahar and Helmand.

A report compiled last year by the humanitarian agency CARE documented 670 education-related attacks in 2008, including murder and arson. Much of the violence in what CARE called an "alarming trend" occurred at girls' schools.

June: Another suspected poisoning at girls school 
May: What caused illness in girls school?
April: Taliban suspected of sickening students

CNN's Matiullah Mati contributed to this report.

Post by:
Filed under: Taliban • Women's issues
soundoff (146 Responses)
  1. Bledsoe

    Another excuse to keep us in Afghanistan,but nobody will tell us that the real reason we're there is because of those "rcently discovered" minerals.

    August 25, 2010 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Neal

    The Taliban guys have done a few bad things sure.

    But do we really need to send troops over there just because they mount a poison gas attack on a school for girls?

    The women of Afghanistan should be able to get along fine without US involvement. If we were not over there now there would not even be girl's' schools to attack.

    August 25, 2010 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Margaret

      This is appalling. Being a woman in an area ruled by the Taliban is in no way "getting along fine." One can argue pros and cons to the US being in Afghanistan, but one thing is clear: The Taliban treats women like crap.

      August 26, 2010 at 2:19 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Bob

    Say it again Ahnold – deese Taliban are girlie men

    August 25, 2010 at 12:54 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Beenthere

    Please keep in mind that it is not Islam that is the enemy. Religion is a very personal and motivating issue that can be used to incite people. The terrorist use it for that reason. It is the terrorists that are the problem. Don't say that Islam is the problem. There are many reasonble and humane and logical Muslims. They are not the enemy. The terrorists are the enemy. Don't make the good Muslims mad at us by discrediting their religion. Keep focused on the frickin terrorists.

    August 25, 2010 at 12:21 pm | Report abuse |
  5. PolicyHot

    The West will not be able to clean out this mess. The more they try, the bigger the mess.

    It's up to Muslims to end this. If they don't feel motivated to do so, that is how they should be judged. They will only bring their own end.

    Clear out in a responsible way (don't leave a vacuum gap) and wish them luck.

    August 25, 2010 at 12:21 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Fizzy Bubblech

    Of course they are gassing these little girls, trying to kill them. How ELSE would you get the required amount of virgins for all of those martyrs??

    August 25, 2010 at 12:18 pm | Report abuse |
  7. PolicyHot

    To All Humans, This is a reality check.

    If you are doing activities, or supporting activities that violate these common sense rules, perhaps you need to step back and regroup:

    1) Treat other's as you wish to be treated
    2) Treat yourself with respect
    3) Treat the Earth with respect, it is our only home

    So simple yet many religions, cults, governments, personal activities, etc. go 180 from this direction.

    Let's review these obvious statements:

    1) God does not want you to kill others for his glory. He doesn't need it.
    2) To God, we are less significant than a bacteria on a piece of meat.
    3) Beware of false prophets, especially the humans that are telling you who the real prophets are!
    4) Religion is used mostly to keep the current power structure, not to relieve pain and suffering in the world.
    5) Ask yourself, would God be jealous of anyone or thing? If so, why the need to inflict fear and control?
    6) Your way is not good enough to cause suffering in others. The ends do not justify the means.

    August 25, 2010 at 12:16 pm | Report abuse |
  8. paul

    it seems that the american public gets fed a lot of bulls$$t just weeks ago a write up in cnn said that the taliban are not terrorists and that the usa does not hate taliban insurgents, to-day cnn tells us that the taliban poisoned these girls and teachers, that alquada was the enemy, is thier anyone in the usa that can distinquish between a taliban, a islamist, a alquaida, a afghan goverment official just exactly which one is the enemy and which one do the usa support, are you sure your supporting the proper people? harming those school girls and teacher,s is a serious situation that we do not appreciate, not at all

    August 25, 2010 at 12:14 pm | Report abuse |
  9. DM

    YES the Taliban are useless and evil and should be wiped out. They are in no way shape or form Muslim. Islam does not teach violence. Educating girls is KEY to change the world not only in the middle east but in poverty stricken countries in Africa. Girls are the future and these crazy threatened men know that.

    August 25, 2010 at 12:07 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Your Dreamin

    These acts are counter productive to what these guys are trying to accomplish, The more they commit these acts the stronger the resolve will be to remove them, Same thing with targeting US interests. All they are doing is strengthening neo-conservative policies in the free world and facilitating fascismn to take root and an grow in power. Not only will the american citizenry suffer for it, but the whole world will soon find itself under seige, They will come and take muslim land as a permanent annex. They will force others under their military might and use their powerbase to manipulate others to conform. Your Jihad will not make the world a better place. It will only help to doom it. Divinity rejects all who set the teachings of men in high esteem and do not seek the understanding that comes from the Virtues that define His Holiness. Your failure shall be your own.

    August 25, 2010 at 12:05 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Joseph McCarthy

    The real tragedy here is that the Communists didn't win 30 years ago,otherwise this wouldn't be going on today!

    August 25, 2010 at 12:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • George Patton

      Joe,you said it all! Thank you.

      August 25, 2010 at 12:04 pm | Report abuse |
  12. peace

    I am a Muslim and the acts that the Taliban are doing are against Islam. Please don’t lump everyone because of the acts of barbaric, ignorant individuals who have twisted the religion of Islam for their own personal gains. I completely abhor the behavior of the Taliban and radicals because it goes against the teachings of Islam. Islam says that women have a right to an education and if anyone attempts to stop her then she has the right to go to the government or whoever is in charge to ensure that she gets an education.

    Don’t think that this is the normal practice in the Middle East, it is not. Millions of women go to school and college and receive university degrees, however there is still a lot of work to get more girls to go to school and many of the issues are cultural and not religious. In the 70’s Afghanistan at one point had more women doctors then the U.S. and it was still a Muslim country, unfortunately war and radical extremist took over and destroyed it.

    For those who just like to post comments about Islam being evil, please inform yourself of facts, and don’t lump all of Islam based on actions of repressive groups like the Taliban or al-Qaeda. We need to stop budding heads and instead work together to fight extremism that denies the rights of any individual.

    August 25, 2010 at 11:59 am | Report abuse |
    • Ken

      So is there anything in your religious text that says if I don't believe your faith then I am OK ? I'll tell you up front that I don't belong to any religion, not even atheism, so I have absolutely no pre-conceptions what so ever so don't even try to reflect it back to Christian's having the same hangup (which they do and is one reason I am not one of them).

      August 25, 2010 at 12:11 pm | Report abuse |
      • Ben

        Ken – despite your erroneous implication "I don't belong to any religion, not even atheism," atheism is not a religion. It is the absence of religion. Think of it this way: atheism is the absence of religion just as baldness is the absence of hair.

        To state that atheism is a religion is similar to claiming that baldness is a hair color.

        August 25, 2010 at 1:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • PolicyHot

      Fair enough. What we all want to know is: what are you all doing about the problem? If you do nothing, others are going to try. It's up to Muslims.

      August 25, 2010 at 12:25 pm | Report abuse |
      • Ken

        Actually you are right, but there needs to be more. As a pure reglious outsider (and the unique view it gives me) all sides need to work on this, It's not just a Muslim problem it's a people (human) one.

        August 25, 2010 at 12:29 pm | Report abuse |
      • peace

        There is alot of work happening in the middle east by Muslim organizations as well as non-Muslims organiztions. Queen Rania of Jordan is leading a very good effort to get more girls educated. There is also work to try to offer a better alternative to youth who are easily radicalized. But again, there still needs to be alot of work, governments in the ME are corrupt and dysfunctional which slows down progress and which creates radical groups who then use religion to gain supporters feeding off the lack of rights or needs that the governments cant or won't supply. This is why it needs a combined effort.

        August 25, 2010 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • dadsnorz

      Very refreshing to read your post. I believe that most Americans, including myself, see a real hesitancy for Mainstream Muslims to condemn extremists behavior. I think if there was more visible outrage to this and other stories from the Islamic Community, the Mosque in Manhatten would be just another building project. Every religion has zealots which can give the entire faith a bad name, but where Islam gets roughed up is their perceived tolerance of terrorism. At least thats how I see it. Thank you for a rational outlook and point of view.

      August 25, 2010 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse |
      • UTLonghorn

        two reasons for the preceived tolerance. 1- corrupt gevermnet fearing retaliation. 2- the media here will not report about a muslim group saying no to radicale muslim, but will report all day long if a muslim group attacked a cartonest for makeing fun of prophet Mohamed. it's what sells

        August 26, 2010 at 11:25 am | Report abuse |
    • rtg

      Peace, I totally agree. I wish some group, even though its not politically correct, would round up all the Taliban and dispose of them permanently. These monsters destroyed Afhanistan once and are attempting to do it again. It would be different if they could be reasoned with, but they are blind to reason and logic. The only option is see is for the people of Afganistan to rise up and destroy them once and for all, because if the people don't fight back, the Taliban will win. The people of Afganistan strong minded people, they drove out the soviets, they could drive out the Taliban if they really tried.

      August 25, 2010 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
      • Scott

        One major difference between the Russians and the Taliban: the Russians were everyone's enemy from outside, the Taliban are homegrown...next-door neighbors and familiar faces to everyone. They have the ability to target and harm you and your family specifically if they so desire. The Russians (and any other outsider as the U.S.) were instead the easy targets.

        Agreed, though, the Taliban cannot be rooted out by any other than the locals, and probably not without outside help...just as the British could not be driven out of America except by the U.S. Patriots, with critical help from the French.

        August 25, 2010 at 8:52 pm | Report abuse |
  13. steve

    This gives me more resolve that our military NEEDS to be in Afganistan. Providing a possitive influence to expand education to girls and women is crutial. If the US and NATO military leaves, the Taliban take over and girls get shut out of education again. For me, it's that simple.

    August 25, 2010 at 11:55 am | Report abuse |
  14. simpler explanation

    Nearly always, mass "gas attacks" where no one is seriously injured and there are no objective abnormalities are mass hysteria. Seems pretty surprising no one has pointed this out in the stories.

    August 25, 2010 at 11:53 am | Report abuse |
    • jeff

      Apparently you have never seen the body's,

      September 5, 2010 at 8:08 am | Report abuse |
  15. rtg

    I just wish they could get all the Taliban together and wipe them all out. They're are useless, evil creatures that simply need to be gone. I could have sworn the Koran said something about not murdering innocent people, but the Taliban is so evil it turns the words around in order to pretend its okay to murder women and children. There's no excuse for attacking children, even if they are the feared female variety.

    August 25, 2010 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
  16. Ken

    Look people a girl is learning math...... what's that mean ? witch ! Wall in the region, pull out all outside technology. Pull out all the forces. Give these people a cultural "time out". Let them live like cavemen and see how they do with nothing but what they can make on their own. At least until they join our century.

    August 25, 2010 at 11:50 am | Report abuse |
  17. Paulette

    I hope the Afghan people realize – one day – that the only way to stop these fascist butchers is to FIGHT BACK.

    August 25, 2010 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
    • Norske

      Are you talking about the Americans or the Taliban ?

      August 30, 2010 at 7:26 pm | Report abuse |
  18. Connie

    That's right, don't educate the women, so this way they don't realize how ignorant their men are.

    August 25, 2010 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
  19. Phil

    Just goes to show that the Taliban is scared of girls. Smart girls that grow up to be smart women and will refuse to take the same old shizang that is. Women that are Islamic live in a almost slavery like society, especially in countries like Afghanistan. Ok, lots of slaves had more rights then most Islamic women. If I was a women, I would be all for Nuking them back to the stone age. As a man, I'm all for "Daisy Cuttering" them back to the stone age.

    August 25, 2010 at 11:39 am | Report abuse |
  20. John N Florida

    Theocracies can NOT exist in an intelligent atmosphere. Now, 'intelligence' is relative. Nazi Germany was a theocracy and we didn't consider the German people to be uneducated.
    In this case, intelligence is exhibited by the willingness and courage to ask the question, "Why?"
    The Taliban and their mullahs can NOT survive in an atmosphere where women are asking 'Why?'. It's why they insist the woman remain paces behind when walking.
    If Ishtar says 'I want that new gun.' she's not close enough to ask 'Why? We can't feed our children now .....and you want a new toy?......so you can go out and get killed?..........and then I have to figure out how to feed our kids without you?................Are you NUTS? '.
    Or, 'Great! You'll be a martyr and have 70 virgins.....(you can't even handle me. what are you going to do with 70?)......meanwhile your brother treats me like the new ride at Coney Island. Why?'

    August 25, 2010 at 11:39 am | Report abuse |
  21. James West

    I have to chuckle at some of the comments... Bledsoe, go back under the rock. Better yet, move to Afghanistan. Verify for yourself whether or not it happened. MaryM, I firmly agree with your view. My son is presently stationed in or around Kabul. They have been told they can only fire on the enemy if they have no other way to get away. These orders have come from Washington. A place were conflict is being on the opposite side of the bill from your collegue. If we continue on our present course, and do not send as many Taliban to greet Allah as we can, human rights violations will be there forever. My son tells me the Afghan Army is reluctant to fight against the Taliban because the Taliban is better equipped. Our Military is not a police force, release the troops to do what they are trained to do... kill the enemy.

    August 25, 2010 at 11:29 am | Report abuse |
    • Margaret Pritchett

      Thank you!
      Thank your son for his service!
      My husband is also military (Army), and is getting ready to go to Afghanistan.
      My heart goes out to these women. As human beings we should be helping them. As a nation we should be helping them.
      It is not the Muslim religion that is doing this, it is extremists. Zealots are within any society.
      Let the military do their jobs, and stop tying their hands behind their backs. If we tell the military to go in, take care of the enemy and you can come home, believe me, they will! If we continue to force them to side-step through the job it will never be accomplished.
      Just my opinion.
      Margaret

      August 25, 2010 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse |
  22. excuse me

    Even disagreeing vehemently that it's ever a good thing for someone to be wrongfully attacked and injured, your assertion is entirely faulthy.

    It wasn't educated Afghanistan women who were 'breeding Taliban' babies. It's the lack of them that's the problem.
    In any situation, it's the uneducated you most need to worry about.. including our own nation.

    August 25, 2010 at 11:07 am | Report abuse |
  23. Longterm disservice to the nation, too

    This is not only a morally bankrupt atrocious act against humanity and God, but it is a long-term disservice to the nation.
    Afghanistan once had extremely high numbers of highly educated women serving in healthcare roles, physicians, research analysts and similar medically essential positions.

    It is a long-term disservice to any nation to displace or restrict their best professionals and to waste half of their human capital.

    August 25, 2010 at 11:02 am | Report abuse |
  24. Belle

    To try to keep females in ignorance and kill the female teachers the girls have is pure evil. The Taliban is one group that needs to be hunted down non-stop until as many as possible are killed. Keeping anyone in ignorance is evil.

    August 25, 2010 at 10:58 am | Report abuse |
    • kathy

      Now that women and girls are being given an equal chance in the free world, we are seeing what women can do. I think the males that are doing this are very afraid that if these girls were able to get an education, these girls would show them that there is a superior gender and it certainly is NOT the MALE gender.

      August 28, 2010 at 12:34 am | Report abuse |
      • ryan

        Boasting superiority is what started this mess. I'd recommend we go for equal opportunity and leave the egos at the door.

        August 31, 2010 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
  25. Robert

    The Taliban's mother's should be ashamed for raising such barbaric sons. Afghan women...the ultimate solution is to refuse to produce children with these Taliban fanatics!!

    August 25, 2010 at 10:58 am | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      Seeing as how the US trained and funded the same people who would become the Taliban, one could say that the US is a parent.

      August 30, 2010 at 12:45 am | Report abuse |
  26. aubrie

    These men responsible are so weak and pathetic as men, that they are threatened by a girl getting an education? Doesn't say much for them. Who would want one for a husband? No wonder they are forced to marry. Poor things. This just makes these men look even more ignorant. Poisoning school girls make you look foolish... NOT macho or respectable. That's my conservative opinion. My gut opinion is that these men are lower and dirtier than pigs.

    August 25, 2010 at 10:57 am | Report abuse |
    • Gerry McGuckin

      That's why pigs are an anathema to them!

      August 26, 2010 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
  27. bella

    So, they think it's better to gas little girls than to let them get an education? Do they feel that threatened by their women making the most of their intelligence?

    August 25, 2010 at 10:56 am | Report abuse |
    • Tony

      Yes, they certainly do. Pathetic.

      August 25, 2010 at 11:26 am | Report abuse |
    • Reese

      I can't wait for these girls to earn their educations and topple the Taliban.

      August 25, 2010 at 11:27 am | Report abuse |
      • aubrie

        That would be poetic justice!!!

        August 25, 2010 at 11:49 am | Report abuse |
      • Joseph McCarthy

        The Afghan Communists already tried that 30 years ago.

        August 25, 2010 at 11:54 am | Report abuse |
      • Anette

        No matter how well-educated they are, they will never stand up for themselves. Look at the whole world. Do you see the ERA passed in the US? No. Because women will allow anything at all to happen to them before they will even politely ask for it to stop. It is absolutely hopeless to think that it will EVER change.

        August 25, 2010 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
      • free2comment

        You hit the nail right on the head. A brief treatment of just what the problem is at Apageinthelife "The Real Issues...zzzz"

        August 25, 2010 at 7:00 pm | Report abuse |
      • Gerry McGuckin

        I thought I had been told that "The Taliban have been eradicated from the face of the earth". Where did I hear that from? Oh yes, George W. Bush! mission Accomplished, right?!

        August 26, 2010 at 12:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • m. nichols

      YES!

      August 25, 2010 at 11:39 am | Report abuse |
  28. MaryM

    This just goes to show the mentality of these people. They're gassing little girls to keep them from getting an education. How pathetic.

    August 25, 2010 at 10:44 am | Report abuse |
    • Joseph McCarthy

      Quite right,MaryM. That's the very reason these same people fought the Russians so many years ago.

      August 25, 2010 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
      • Ernie Lehmann

        Hi Joseph, this is a longshot for me, have you ever lived in Walnut Creek, California? If so, we know each other well.
        As I said, this is just a longshot, since I try desperately to find a long lost friend.
        So, if you are the one, please e-mail me, thanks....E.L.

        August 28, 2010 at 11:25 am | Report abuse |
    • Guest

      @MaryM

      The problem with your comment MaryM is that you are only seeing this type of report from Afghanistan and are completely oblivious and deliberately being kept in the dark about the very same thing happening on a much larger scale right here in the good ol' USA. Read the Maxie Time diary start at airfreshener411.blogspot.com UFO Human Link 'what's in a can of air freshener'

      August 25, 2010 at 6:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • blackhole

      why not trying to give the Taliban a taste of their own medicine. put poison gas in their suspected camps, this kind of animals don't deserved to lived in this civilized world..

      August 28, 2010 at 11:16 pm | Report abuse |
      • AnnBChrist

        wouldn't be too sure, probably the cans have lables that say Waxie Time, Spring Time, Time Mist, something to do with Time Air Freshener and they are written in English complete with CAS numbers of the ingredients; one day we'll know– if the reporters can get the news past their editors.

        August 31, 2010 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ms. B

      They're trying to kill them without maiming them. Apparently there's a shortage of virgins for the martyrs in heaven so the Taliban are trying to play catch up.

      August 30, 2010 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse |
      • tensor

        Oh, I don't think the Taliban would mind one bit maiming them, as well as every woman the planet. However, the phrase 'barefoot and pregnant' didn't exactly originate in the Middle East, not is it contained to that region of the world.

        August 31, 2010 at 10:32 am | Report abuse |
    • AnnBChrist

      No excuse to be Clueless at your age; this type of gassing has been going on in our own country for decades! You just choose to remain blind to it or the government does a fairly good job of making sure the stories to become news. Here we call it 'sick building syndrome' 'ADD' and other choice Euphamisms that typically endid with '-osis' airfreshener411

      August 31, 2010 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
      • jeff

        that differant, that effects evryone ,what we are taking about is a targeted attack for one sole perpose.

        September 5, 2010 at 7:56 am | Report abuse |
    • mikeinrichmond

      This is exactly why we should setup camps all over the country to train women how to shoot, and give them all M-16's as we leave. Either that or just help every women and girls escape, thus limiting the Taliban to just one generation.

      August 31, 2010 at 5:03 pm | Report abuse |