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Afghan, Foreign Suspects Held For Alleged Poisoning Of Schoolgirls

Schoolgirls receive first aid after inhaling a mysterious poisonous gas in Takhar in late May.
TALOQAN, Afghanistan -- A security official in Afghanistan's northeastern Takhar Province says 17 people have been detained in connection with the alleged gas poisoning of hundreds of schoolgirls.

The official told RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan that those in custody include Afghans and "foreigners."

He did not specify the nationalities of the foreign suspects.

Health officials in Takhar have said some 800 schoolgirls recently fell ill after allegedly inhaling poisonous gas that was released at six schools in the region.

The Taliban has denied any involvement in attacks on schools, and demanded punishment for those responsible for the gas attacks.

In 1996-2001, when it held power over most of Afghanistan, the Taliban barred girls from attending schools, deeming female school attendance un-Islamic.

With additional reporting by AFP