More schoolgirls were poisoned in Iran on Wednesday, state media reported, adding to a wave of suspected attacks that activists have blamed on the regime.
“In continuation of the serial poisoning of students, a number of high school girls (in Tehran) were poisoned,” the semi-official Fars news agency reported.
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The girls were poisoned due to the release of some kind of spray in the school, the agency said, citing the parents of the students.
In another incident on the same day, the semi-official Tasnim news agency reported poisonings in seven different schools in the northwestern city of Ardebil, with 108 schoolgirls taken to hospital for treatment.
“In these schools, the students smelt gas or something similar,” Tasnim quoted the president of Ardebil University of Medical Sciences as saying.
Over the past three months, hundreds of cases of respiratory distress have been reported among schoolgirls, with some needing hospitalization.
An Iranian lawmaker said that around 1,200 schoolgirls had been poisoned in recent days in two different cities.
Zahra Sheikhi, a member of the Iranian parliament’s health committee, told the Iran-based Khabar Online news site that as of February 27, 799 cases of poisonings of schoolgirls have been recorded in the city of Qom, and nearly 400 other cases have been recorded in the city of Boroujerd between February 21 and February 27.
No arrests have been made, and the suspected poisonings are currently under investigation, according to Iran’s police chief.
On Sunday, a government official said that the attacks were a deliberate attempt to force the closure of girls’ schools. However, he later retracted his statement.
The poisonings come more than five months after protests that spread across Iran following the death in custody of Iranian Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini in September.
Some Iranians, including prominent activists, have blamed the poisonings on the regime, saying that they are a form of revenge against girls for participating in protests.
“Today another chemical attack on schoolgirls in Tehran to avenge participation in anti-mandatory hijab and anti-regime protests,” Iranian-American activist Masih Alinjead wrote on Twitter.
“This (is) biological terrorism.”
Today another chemical attack on schoolgirls in Tehran to avenge participation in anti mandatory hijab and anti regime protests.
Parents gathered in front of the school & chanting “Death to Khamenei”
This biological terrorism
must be stopped immediately.pic.twitter.com/YRcdnQbz7A
— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) March 1, 2023
Molavi Abdolhamid, Iran’s most prominent Sunni cleric who has been highly critical of the regime since the protests began in September, also said that the poisonings were a way for the regime to retaliate against girls who participated in the demonstrations.
“The poisonings of schoolgirls in Qom and Boroujerd is an inhuman and anti-Islamic act … it is revenge for their recent uprising,” Abdolhamid wrote on Twitter.
Others drew comparisons between those behind the poisonings in Iran and extremist groups such as the Taliban in Afghanistan and Boko Haram in the Sahel, both of whom have demonstrated opposition towards girls’ education.
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