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    15 held for poisoning schoolgirls: Mashal

    KABUL CITY (PAN): Accusing Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) of poisoning schoolgirls through Afghan rebels, the National Directorate of Security (NDS) on Wednesday said 15 suspects had been detained in connection with the serial anti-school attacks in northern Afghanistan.

    NDS Spokesman Lotfullah Mashal told a news conference in Kabul the detainees included Qari Khalilullah, a Taliban-designated deputy governor for northern Takhar province, Mullah Yaqub, a member of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, and a Taliban's military commander in the north, Noor Agha, who is linked to the Qari Khalil network.

    Yaqub was a resident of the Khwaja Ghar district of Takhar, he said, identifying others detainees as Waliullah and Ghazi, residents of Takhar, Syed Abdur Rahman, a librarian in the Qurloq High School in Kunduz, Qayamuddin, a prayer leader in Amin Akhondzada mosque in Kunduz, Najibullah, a teacher in the Qara Tash High School of Takhar and Siddiqullah and Sakhi Dada, residents of Taloqan city.

    A 11th grade student in Bibi Hajira Girls School in Qaratash district, Seema, a 9th grade student in Bolak Wartez School of Taloqan city,  Shukaria, the librarian’s wife and Bibi Ayesha had been detained in connection with the plot.  

    Some poisoning materials, a pistol, 12 kilograms of explosives, 10 remote-controlled devices, a video camera and four mobile phones were seized from the detainees, said Mashal, who added though the Taliban denied hand in the incidents, investigations had revealed their involvement.

    A Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, rejected the fighters had any hand in poisoning schoolgirls, blaming it on NDS to defame the rebels.

    Mashal said initial reports suggested that the Haqqani network, Afghan Taliban and Pakistani Taliban had a meeting in Quetta, where they decided to poison students as part of their Al-Farooq operation. He accused Pakistani intelligence agency of using Afghan Taliban to carry out the attacks.

    Public Health Minister Dr. Suraya Dalil, also present at the press conference, said investigations showed an unknown powder had been used to poison girls. The chemical caused breathing problem, headache, vomiting and others, she said, asking students and teachers to immediately go to an open place and wash their faces, hands and take deep breaths if they noticed the symptoms.

    mm/ma