By Abdul Haleem, Chen Xin
KABUL, June 13 (Xinhua) -- "It really disappointed me to see my girl laid down unconscious on a bed in hospital to receive medical treatment. It is a matter of concern for me and other parents sending their kids to school," Abdul Qayum, father of an affected girl, said in a hospital in the northern Takhar province.
The relatively peaceful Takhar, 245 km north of Afghan capital Kabul, has experienced a few cases of poisoning girl at schools over the past one month causing panic among the residents especially the parents.
"It is a new evil phenomenon added to our suffering. My daughter left home healthily for school in the morning but now is unconscious," the upset Qayum told Xinhua.
He also called on the government to bring to justice those behind the attack to ensure security in schools.
For at least six times, according to local officials, the girl schools have been mysteriously attacked with toxic substance, leaving hundreds of innocent pupils affected.
The latest such attack was on Sunday and according to Hafizullah Safi, director of the public health department in Takhar's provincial capital Taluqan city, 40 students from Nahid Shahid Girl School had been taken to hospital for medical treatment.
Earlier, 97 students were sent to hospital after similar attack on the Bashir Abad Girl School. However, the authorities have not identified the substance used in poisoning the girl pupils and no one has claimed responsibility for it.
Local officials blamed the enemies of peace, a term used against Taliban militants, for attacking the girl schools.
But Taliban militants have rejected their involvement in targeting girl students. In a statement over the weekend the outfit said attacking schools is not the work of Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (the name of ousted Taliban regime).
Local media reported Tuesday that five people had been arrested on charges of involving in poisoning girl school students in Takhar province.
Several schools have already been closed down in Andar district of Ghazni province due to security threats posed by Taliban outfit, according to officials.
Afghan minister for education Farooq Wardak admitted last month that 530 schools have remained closed due to security reasons, mostly in the southern region where Taliban are active. As a result, 300,000 students have been deprived of their right for education.
In Afghanistan, some 5 million school-aged children cannot go to school because of security reasons, traditional restrictions and poverty.
In relatively more conservative region in Afghanistan, especially in tribal areas where the old tradition is deeply rooted, the parents often do not like young girls to go out of home.
"My dream was to become a gynecologist but unfortunately my father stopped me from going to school when I was in grade 7," a girl from northern Baghlan province said.