New cases of poisoning in different regions of Iran

TEHRAN: More cases of mysterious poisoning of Iranian schoolgirls were reported in several provinces on Sunday, local media reported, prompting calls for authorities to intervene amid growing concerns from parents.

Hundreds of cases have been reported since late November, mostly in the holy city of Qom, south of the capital Tehran, with at least 52 schools affected, according to an official tally released on Saturday.

Some of the students had to be hospitalized.

The latest wave of poisonings affected several students at two high schools in the western city of Abhar and the southwestern city of Ahvaz, the ISNA news agency said, citing local health authorities.

Schoolgirls at a primary school in the western city of Zanjan were also attacked, ISNA added.

More cases have been reported from the holy city of Mashhad in the northeast, Isfahan in the center and Shiraz in the south, according to the Mehr and Ilna news agencies.

Dozens of schoolgirls were reportedly taken to local hospitals for treatment.

On Friday, President Ebrahim Raisi said he had asked intelligence and home affairs ministers to follow up on the poisoning cases, calling them “a plot by the enemy to incite fear and despair among the people”.

In an interview with the Fars news agency, Deputy Interior Minister Majid Mirahmadi said the “instigators of the girl poisoning” were trying to “close the schools.”

However, he added that the backers of this action also tried to trigger more protests in the Islamic Republic.

Mirahmadi was referring to the protest movement sparked in Iran by the September 16 death in custody of Mahsa Amini, a young ethnic Kurdish woman arrested for allegedly violating strict dress codes for women.

Mirahmadi said most of the affected students suffered complications due to “fear and stress”.

Last week, Iran’s deputy health minister, Younes Panahi, said the poisoning was aimed at choking off girls’ education.

The mystery of the poisoning has gripped Iran, sparking a wave of anger across the country and worried parents calling for action from the authorities. -AFP New cases of poisoning in different regions of Iran

Russell Falcon

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