Hundreds of Afghan schoolchildren have been admitted to hospital in the past six weeks after falling victim to what appears to be six separate major poison attacks. Three alleged attacks have occurred in northern Takhar province in the past week alone, affecting more than 300 girls.
Some government and police officials have blamed the poison attacks on the Taliban, whose hostility to girls’ education during its hardline rule in the 1990s is well documented. Others have blamed the “enemies of Afghanistan” and hinted at the involvement of Pakistan and Iran.
Tests by the International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) and government, however, have not found any toxic substances. One international expert has said the scares have all the hallmarks of mass hysteria.
Unfortunately the hysteria is not restricted to the classrooms of Afghanistan. Certain warmongering blogs have seized on the reports of mass poisonings by the Taliban without bothering to question whether they have any factual basis. See for example here and here.