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Iran arrests more than 100 people ‘linked to schoolgirl poisonings’

March 13, 2023 at 11:41 am

TEHRAN, IRAN – SEPTEMBER 5: Iranian student wearing mask is seen in school after Ministry of Education of Iran plans the opening of schools and education to be done remotely in some schools according to the coronavirus (Covid-19) risk level in Tehran, Iran on September 05, 2020. Iranian student wearing mask is seen in school [Fatemeh Bahrami – Anadolu Agency]

The Iranian authorities announced on Saturday that they have arrested more than 100 people as part of the investigation into the poisoning of hundreds of schoolgirls and sparked outrage in the country, the official IRNA has reported.

The interior ministry gave no details about the people who were arrested in several governorates, including Tehran and Qom, East and West Azerbaijan, and the provinces of Kurdistan and Hamadan. However, it pointed out that “among those arrested” were people who had “hostile motives and the intention of instilling terror in the people and students and to close schools.”

Earlier this month, Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, demanded “severe punishments” for those found to be involved in the poisonings. The ministry has mentioned the possibility of associating the detainees with an exiled Iranian opposition group based in Albania that Tehran has listed as a terrorist organisation, the People’s Mujahedin of Iran (Mujahedeen-e-Khalq).

“Fortunately, from the middle of the last week, the number of incidents in schools has fallen significantly,” added the interior ministry, “and there have been no reports of sick students.”

A member of the parliamentary investigation committee charged with looking into the poisonings, Muhammad Hassan Asfari, said that more than 5,000 pupils have been affected in approximately 230 schools across 25 of Iran’s 31 provinces. In the wave of cases since late November, schoolgirls have suffered fainting, nausea, shortness of breath and other symptoms after reporting “unpleasant” smells on school premises. A number have been hospitalised as a result.

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