Nine Christian student nurses in Karachi have claimed they were poisoned last week, in an incident that put the women in hospital. The toxic substance that they ingested was so powerful, it took effect in a matter of seconds. They say they were poisoned from drinking tea during a group study session at the hostel of the city's Civil Hospital on July 29. Some of them suspect they may have been the target of Muslims unhappy that they violated Ramadan fasting rules by drinking the tea. Rita James, who spent two days on a ventilator, said she was still suffering from low blood pressure following the incident. “After the first two sips, it was very tough for me to breathe and my throat started getting dry,” she said. Two of the nurses were still receiving treatment last night. Nasreem Gill, the hospital's chief nursing superintendent, said she filed a police report on Monday while they waited on the outcome of tests to determine whether the poisoning was deliberate. But one of the nurses, who declined to be identified, claimed hospital management was trying to cover up the incident after most of them were quickly discharged and sent home. There was also some speculation that other members of staff may have been responsible. The All Pakistan Christian League held a demonstration outside the hospital, calling for an investigation. A group from the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission and Father Thomas Gulfam, general secretary of the Heralds of Peace, visited the nurses who were still in hospital yesterday.