In a possible fresh round of poisoning attacks, dozens of Iranian schoolgirls from five provinces have been hospitalised, reported Al Jazeera.
In recent months, hundreds of episodes of respiratory distress in schoolgirls have been reported nationwide, primarily in the holy city of Qom, south of Tehran, with some requiring hospitalisation.
Iranian officials have accused Tehran’s adversaries of the ailments, which they suspect may have been caused by poisoning the girls.
The most recent events in western Hamedan province, Zanjan and West Azerbaijan in northwest Iran, Fars in the south, and Alborz province in the north were reported by Al Jazeera on Saturday.
According to the accounts, dozens of students were sent to nearby hospitals for treatment.
Social media videos showed parents lining up at schools to pick up their kids and some pupils being transported to hospitals by ambulances or buses.
President Ebrahim Raisi on Friday said that the alleged poisoning instances are part of “the enemy’s conspiracy to instill dread and despair among the people.”
On Saturday, the Iranian interior minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli claimed that investigators had discovered “suspect samples” that were being examined, reported Al Jazeera, citing the official news agency IRNA.
“Suspect samples have been detected in field investigations, which are being researched… to establish the causes of the student’s illness, and the results would be publicised, as soon as feasible,” Fazli said.
On Wednesday, at least 10 girls’ schools were targeted in suspected poisoning attacks, seven in the northwestern city of Ardabil and three in the capital Tehran. Last week, Iran’s deputy health minister Younes Panahi said the attacks were aimed at shutting down education for girls.
A report in Al Jazeera said many parents have said that they will keep their daughters at home “until officials provide some answer.”
“We know that most [government schools] have security cameras outside and inside the institutions. The question now is why the officials haven’t been able to find any leads in these cases,” a parent told Al Jazeera.
In a nation where women have one of the highest rates of literacy in the Middle East, this is concerning. In Iran, more than 95 per cent of women have some form of education, which is undoubtedly a recent development.
Germany and the United States have expressed concern, and the United Nations Human Rights office in Geneva has urged a transparent inquiry into the alleged attacks.
The string of purported poisonings occurred more than five months into the nation’s demonstrations after Iranian Kurd Mahsa Amini, 22, who had been detained for allegedly violating stringent clothing codes for women, passed away while she was being held in detention.
The protests, which are commonly referred to as “riots” by the government, are said to have resulted in hundreds of deaths and thousands of arrests, reported Al Jazeera. (ANI)