Poisoning of schoolgirls is ‘unforgivable crime,’ says Iran’s supreme leader

Tehran, Mar 6 (EFE).- Iran’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei on Monday called a wave of poisonings at girls’ schools an “unforgivable crime” after it left hundreds of students across several provinces hospitalized over the past few months.

“This is an unforgivable crime… the perpetrators of this crime should be severely punished,” Khamenei was quoted as saying by Iranian state media.

Khamenei urged his country’s authorities to investigate the suspected gas poisonings that began in the Shiite holy city of Qom in November when the protests over the death of Mahsa Amini in police custody were in full swing.

So far, more than 1,000 female students across dozens of schools have been poisoned. Those affected report symptoms including headache, dizziness, nausea and sometimes inability to move limbs after detecting a smell of rotten orange and cleaning products.

The latest cases were reported in various cities across the Islamic republic on Sunday when some 29 of the 450 girls living in a female students’ residence in the northwestern Iranian city of Urmia were taken to hospitals after they were poisoned “by an unknown agent,” according to the Shargh daily newspaper.

The interior and intelligence ministries have launched an investigation into the poisoning attacks but reported no progress so far.

According to the interior ministry, poisoning attacks in 52 schools have left an unknown number of female students intoxicated and 28 students hospitalized, figures that are far from those provided by the Iranian media and activist groups.

Iran’s president Ebrahim Raisi has blamed the poisonings on the country’s “enemies,” a term often used there to refer to the United States and Israel.

The attacks have sparked widespread anger, especially among parents, due to the authorities’ perceived “idleness” in repelling the poisonings they believe are intentional to shut down girls’ schools.

School students took part in the anti-government protests that broke out following Amini’s death in September after she was arrested for allegedly not wearing hijab correctly, took off their veils and shouted “woman, life, freedom”. EFE


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