Iran detains suspected school poisoning perpetrators as cases rises to 5,000


Iran revealed on Tuesday that it had made the first arrests in connection with a string of mysterious schoolgirl poisonings that have impacted more than 5,000 students since late November.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader, demanded on Monday that those responsible for the “unforgivable act” be apprehended “without mercy” as public outrage grows.

In a statement released on Tuesday, the interior ministry reported that “a number of persons,” including the parent of a student, had been detained in six regions on suspicion of producing dangerous chemicals.

Majid Mirahmadi, Iran’s deputy interior minister, said on state television early on Tuesday that numerous people had been detained by “intelligence agencies,” and “the competent agencies are conducting a complete investigation.”

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Since late November, poisonings have affected dozens of Iranian schools, with students reporting “unpleasant” odours on school grounds and experiencing symptoms ranging from shortness of breath to nausea and dizziness. Some have received hospital care.

“Twenty-five (out of 31) provinces and around 230 schools have been hit, and more than 5,000 schoolgirls and boys poisoned,” Mohammad-Hassan Asafari, a member of the parliamentary fact-finding committee, told the ISNA news agency on Monday.

To determine the kind and origin of the poisonings, various tests are being run. About the kind of poison used, no particular information has yet been discovered.

The unexplained poisonings have generated a surge of indignation and demands for action from the authorities.

One of those arrested had allegedly used their child to put the “irritant” into the school, and then shot recordings of unwell students which were distributed to “hostile media” to “cause terror… and close schools,” the statement added.

In addition, three individuals have criminal histories that “include involvement in the recent riots,” as the Iranian government refers to the demonstrations that followed Mahsa Amini’s death in detention.

Amini, 22, who had been detained for allegedly disobeying stringent dress codes for women, passed away on September 16.

The interior and intelligence ministries were instructed to provide regular updates on the poisoning instances last week by President Ebrahim Raisi, who referred to them as “the enemy’s conspiracy to instill fear and despair” among the populace.



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