Jihad against girls’ education, or mass hysteria? “80 Afghan schoolgirls fall ill; poison feared,” by Rahim Faiez for Associated Press, April 25:
KABUL – Dozens of Afghan schoolgirls have fallen ill in recent days after reporting a strange odor in their classrooms in northern Afghanistan, prompting an investigation into whether they were targeted by militants who oppose education for girls or victims of mass hysteria.
Either way, the reports from three schools within 2 miles (3 kilometers) of one another in Kunduz province have raised alarm in a city threatened by the Taliban and their militant allies.
The latest cases occurred Sunday, when 13 girls became sick, Kunduz provincial spokesman Mahbobullah Sayedi said. Another 47 complained of dizziness and nausea the day before, and 23 fell ill last Wednesday.
All complained of a strange smell in class before they fell ill….
“This is a matter of concern not only for us but for the families,” Sayedi said, blaming the sicknesses on “enemies” who oppose education for girls.
In the capital of Kabul, President Hamid Karzai’s spokesman, Waheed Omar, said any attempt to keep girls out of school is a “terrorist act.”…
Girls were not allowed to attend school when the Taliban controlled most of Afghanistan. The group was ousted from power in the 2001 U.S.-led invasion. The Taliban and other conservative extremist groups have been known to target schoolgirls.
In one of the most chilling attacks, men on motorbikes sprayed acid from squirt guns and water bottles onto 15 schoolgirls and teachers in 2008 as they walked to a girls school in Kandahar, the southern city that is the spiritual birthplace of the militant movement….
Related incidents in this story paint a picture of fanaticism and chaos:
Elsewhere in Afghanistan on Sunday, hundreds of people blocked a main road in Logar province, west of Kabul, and burned several trucks to protest what they said were civilian deaths in NATO operations. They gathered hours after NATO said coalition troops killed several insurgents and captured a Taliban sub-commander.
“The man they killed was a schoolteacher and a mullah,” said businessman Jan Mohammed. “They killed him inside his house and because of that the people came and burned my gas station, my car and my house.”
He complained that if NATO thought the mullah was with the Taliban, “they should have arrested him at his school not gone to his house at midnight.”
“The people are very angry. They are saying these people killed are innocent civilians,” provincial spokesman Din Mohammad Darwesh said…
So let me get this straight. They were enraged over the killing of innocent civilians, so they burned down a bystander’s gas station, car and house. I guess they decided to express their moral indignation by taking the high road!
And meanwhile, a jihad/martyrdom bomber took a few civilians with him on his way to meet his houris:
In southeastern Afghanistan, a suicide bomber attacked private security guards while they were at a bazaar, killing four Afghans and wounding 12, the government said.
Two of the dead and five of the wounded worked for the U.S. Protection and Investigations security firm, an Interior Ministry statement said. The other victims were civilians….