Tehran [Iran]March 13 (ANI): Iranian authorities have arrested more than 100 people suspected of poisoning Iranian schoolgirls, CNN reported.
The state-run IRNA news agency cited a statement from Iran’s interior ministry as saying the individuals had been “identified, arrested and investigated” in cities including the capital Tehran.
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“Preliminary investigations revealed that some of them acted out of mischief or adventurism with the aim of closing the classroom and were influenced by the psychological atmosphere created, including the use of harmless and odorous substances,” the statement read.
Iran has seen a wave of suspected poisonings in recent months, almost all at girls’ schools. The first known poisoning of schoolgirls occurred in the city of Qom on November 30, when about 50 students fell ill and were taken to hospital.
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Another incident in the city occurred in February, when more than 100 students from 13 schools were hospitalized after what Iran’s state news agency described as a “serial poisoning,” according to CNN.
Both the United States and the United Nations have called on Iranian authorities to fully investigate the suspected poisoning and hold those responsible accountable.
While Iranian politicians say the girls may have been targeted by hardline Islamist groups, activists believe the poisonings could be linked to the nationwide protests that erupted last September over Mahsa Amini’s death.
According to CNN, many female students took an active part in the protests, removing the mandatory hijab in classrooms, tearing up photos of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and calling for his execution.
Medical staff, parents and teachers have accused the Iranian government of trying to silence the victims. Many Iranians fear Islamist hardliners are behind the attacks, as they aim to intimidate the girls and get their families to stop sending them to school. The method was used by the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2010 and more recently by Boko Haram, an Islamist terrorist group in Nigeria, which abducted 276 schoolgirls in 2014.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has previously called the suspected poisoning an “unforgivable crime” and called for “severe punishment” for anyone found responsible.
Among those arrested were “those with hostile motives who sought to create fear and panic among the population and students, close schools, and create pessimism about the Iranian government,” the ministry said, according to CNN.
They will continue to be “under investigation until the necessary assurances are obtained”, the statement said, adding that the number of poisoning cases in girls’ schools across the country had been decreasing “over the past few days”.
Earlier, President Ibrahim Rashid claimed the poisoning was the work of Iran’s enemies who were trying to create chaos in the country and trying to instill fear, hopelessness and insecurity among parents and students. (Arnie)
(This is an unedited and auto-generated story from a Syndicated News feed, the content body may not have been modified or edited by LatestLY staff)