The Taliban is suspected of poisoning as many as 126 schoolgirls and female teachers at a private school in Afghanistan’s western province of Herat, according to various news outlets.
NBC News reports that of the estimated 126 poisoned people, at least 94 were schoolgirls.
Citing Afghan officials, Reuters notes that the girls were taken to the hospital “after breathing toxic gas.”
“More than a hundred people, all females, were poisoned,” Enjil district’s administrative chief, Mohammad Naqib, told Pajhwok Afghan News, noting that an undetermined number of school workers, as well as some of the parents and custodians who rushed their loved ones to the hospital, were also poisoned.
Although Khaama Press reports that the real cause of the incident is unknown, some Afghan news outlets say the poison attack took place as a result of a gas leak, while others report that the classrooms may have been sprayed with toxic material.
“Our initial finding shows some kind of spray was used by some of the students to freshen up the classrooms,” Herat’s police spokesman, Col. Abdul Rauf Ahmadi, told NBC News. “Our investigation is ongoing to determine if it was an act of sabotage or poor quality spray.”
“I was inside a classroom and felt a bad smell. I don’t know what happened later on. When I opened my eyes, I was in hospital,” a teacher of the school, identified only as Hasina, told Pajhwok news.
As many as 126 students and teachers from the private Habibul Mustafa School located in the provincial capital Herat city, were rushed to the Herat Zonal Hospital after falling sick on Monday, Mohammad Shafiq Sherzai, a spokesman for the hospital, reportedly said.