By Nick Paton Walsh
(CNN) - It's one of the most troubling stories out of Afghanistan.
Extremists using a campaign of terror that doesn't involve bullets or bombs.
And the victims are some of the most vulnerable young students, especially girls.
If it happened once, we might dismiss it as a random act of cruelty.
But it keeps happening.
To Afghanistan's most extreme conservatives, like the Taliban, girls going to school is so offensive thye'll do anything to stop it, including poisoning school girls.
Wednesday morning students went into class at the Bibi Hajera Girls School in northern Takhar Province and noticed a powerful smell. They began to fall ill.
In panic, 125 girls were rushed to the hospital.
There, headaches, dizziness set in, with 40 of the girls requiring longer treatment.
"A number of girls aged from 15 to 18 were brought from a school to hospital today. Generally they are not in a critical condition. We are looking after them, but let's see what happens later. We understand so far from the situation is that they are mostly traumatized," said Dr. Habibullah Rostaqi, the hospital director.
Amid the distress, a growing fear that even in the once peaceful north, hard-liners can strike at will.
Police have sent blood samples from the poisoned girls to Kabul for analysis to work out what the poison is, but they already know who to blame.
"Actually, the Afghan people know that the terrorists and the Taliban are doing these things to threaten girls and stop them going to school. That's something we and the people believe. Now we are implementing democracy in Afghanistan and we want girls to be educated, but the government's enemies don't want this," said Khalilullah Asser, a spokesperson for Takhar police.
This has happened elsewhere before, and in this province only a few months ago.
Fear a powerful weapon, but not powerful enough yet to stop these girls from wanting to learn.