Iran has arrested 110 suspects in mass schoolgirl poisonings, police say

Iranian police said on Wednesday that 110 suspects have been arrested in connection with the mysterious incident. Thousands of girls were poisoned In schools across the country

Students say they have been. Sick from toxic fumes In the pre-November incidents that occurred mainly in girls’ schools. Authorities say they are investigating, but have not said who might be behind the incidents or what — if any — chemicals were used.

Unlike the neighbor AfghanistanEven during the height of the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran, there is no history of religious extremists targeting women’s education. No deaths have been reported from the poisoning of schoolgirls, and some officials have suggested that mass hysteria played a role.

Police spokesman General Saeed Montazer al-Mahdi announced these arrests in remarks to Iranian media. He also said police had seized thousands of stink bomb toys, indicating that some of the alleged attacks may have been copycat pranks.

A woman holds a placard with a picture of a girl wearing gas.
A woman holds a placard showing a girl wearing a gas mask during a protest against hundreds of cases of poisoning of girls in schools in Iran on March 4, 2023 in Madrid, Spain.

Diego Radamas/Suppa Images/Lightrocket/Getty

Others appear to be more serious, with hundreds of students hospitalized, according to local media reports and rights groups.

Since nationwide anti-government protests began last September, Iran has imposed heavy restrictions on independent media and arrested dozens of journalists. It has also targeted reporters covering the poisonings, even after officials provided few details about what was happening.

Iranian authorities Announced the first arrests. Linked to suspected poisoning last week. At the time, Iran’s Deputy Interior Minister Majid Mirahmadi said on state television that “several people have been arrested in five provinces and relevant agencies are conducting a full investigation.”

More than 1,200 Iranian girls from at least 60 different schools have fallen ill since last November as a result of chemical or biological attacks, according to Iranian state media and government officials. The actual number of schoolgirls targeted in attacks may be much higher than reported.

A wave of poison attacks on schoolgirls has alarmed Iranians.
In this March 2, 2023 video image, a young woman lies in a hospital after reportedly being poisoned at an undisclosed location in Iran.

Vana/ Reuters TV

A lawmaker on a government panel investigating the incidents said earlier this month that 5,000 students in 230 schools in 25 provinces had complained of being sick. Human rights activists in Iran, a group that has closely monitored recent protests, put the number at more than 7,000.

Earlier this month, there was a spike in reports of schoolgirls being poisoned. Students who were targeted described numbness, temporary paralysis or blackouts before experiencing what some likened to paint, perfume or something burning.

“It definitely looks like a chemical or biological incident,” British chemical weapons expert Hamish D. Bretton Gordon told CBS News. “It’s not something that seems to happen naturally.”

The World Health Organization documented what may have been a similar phenomenon in Afghanistan from 2009 to 2012, when hundreds of girls across the country complained of strange smells and poison. No evidence was found to support the suspicions, and the WHO said it appeared to be “a widespread psychiatric illness”.

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