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Two schoolgirls blinded in acid attack in Afghanistan

  • Story Highlights
  • Men on motorcycle spray girls with acid from squirt guns, military says
  • No one claims responsibility, but network says Taliban suspected
  • Girls were prohibited from going to school under Taliban regime
  • Top U.S. commander calls insurgents "dishonorable"
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KABUL, Afghanistan (CNN) -- Two men on a motorcycle used water pistols to spray acid on girls walking to school Wednesday in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar, blinding at least two of them, military spokesmen said.

U.S. Col. Greg Julian said Afghanistan's National Military Command Center told him that four girls were hurt in the incident. Two were blinded and remain hospitalized, and two were treated and released, he said.

The men escaped after the attack, and no one claimed responsibility for it, but Arab-language network Al-Jazeera said Taliban militants were suspected to be responsible.

The incident occurred about 8 a.m. near Mirwais Nika Girls High School in the Meir Weis Mena district.

Kandahar government spokesman Parwaz Ayoubi gave different figures on the number of girls injured, saying six were burned, one of them severely. He called the attackers "enemies of education."

Girls were forbidden to attend school under the Taliban, which ruled the country from 1996 to 2001, when U.S.-led forces removed them from power. Video Watch reaction to the attack from U.S. first lady Laura Bush »

According to Al-Jazeera, the girls were attacked with battery acid. Two teenage sisters, one of whom suffered serious burns, were among the victims.

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"We were on the way to school when two men on motorbikes stopped next to us. One of them threw acid on my sister's face. I tried to help her, and then they threw acid on me, too," Latefa, 16, told the Qatar-based satellite network.

"We were shouting, and people came to see what was going on. Then the two men escaped," she said.

Latefa told Al-Jazeera that she was hurt, and her 18-year-old sister was in serious condition with acid burns on her face.

Al-Jazeera said schoolgirls in Kandahar can be recognized by their uniform of black pants, white shirt, black coat and head scarf.

The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan condemned the incident, as well as a suicide bombing that occurred near a government building hours later that killed and wounded several civilians, including women and children.

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"These cowardly acts reflect how dishonorable the insurgents truly are," Gen. David McKiernan said in a statement posted on the Web site of the International Security Assistance Force.

"No one can honestly say they are fighting for the people, then purposefully attack innocent women and children," he said.

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