Iranian authorities arrested over 100 people in connection to a recent spate of poisonings of schoolgirls. This is believed to be an attempt to prevent them from going to school.
A spokesperson for the police, General Saeed Montazerolmehdi announced that 110 arrests were made in comments by Iranian media. The police also confiscated thousands stink bombs, suggesting that some of these alleged attacks could have been copied pranks.
According to local media reports, the first cases were discovered in Qom in November 2022, which is 125 km (80 miles) southwest of Tehran. Here, 18 students were treated after a “posionous” gas was released at Noor Yazdanshahr Conservatory.
According to ISNA, one student claimed that she felt numb in her legs and others were having trouble breathing. As a precaution, some parents have refused to send their children to school.
In the weeks that followed the Qom attacks, there were several cases, including some in Tehran, Boroujerd and other cities, which are approximately 400km (248 mi) away from the capital. A school for boys was also targeted.
However, since the beginning of March there has been an increase in cases. Reports came in from 23 of 31 provinces of the country by 6 March and affected hundreds of schools throughout the Islamic Republic.
It is unknown who or what the perpetrators are, and even if they are a series. Religious extremists in Afghanistan have attacked schools to stop girls from attending school in the past.
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But, such activities have never been documented in Iran, not even during the 1979 Islamic revolution. Some officials from the government have suggested that mass hysteria may have been responsible for spreading these reports.
The government is attempting to crack down on journalists covering poisonings. According to a government panel, as many as 5,000 students were sickened in 25 schools across the country.
The number of students involved in the student loan program is more than 7,700, according to a human rights group.