More cases of serial poisoning of schoolgirls in Iran after arrests – Middle East Monitor

In a fresh wave of serial poisonings in Iran, more than a dozen schoolgirls were transferred to a hospital on the outskirts of Tehran on Saturday, Anadolu reports.

Local media cited officials in Pardis, a suburb located 17 kilometers (105 miles) northeast of Tehran, as saying that students at Khayyam Girls School complained of being unwell after an explosion of a homemade grenade.

The smell emanating from the explosion, they said, made students dizzy and at least 15 of them subsequently had to be taken to a local hospital.

Some reports said the symptoms were that of “stress” caused by the explosion. All the students have since been discharged from the hospital and an investigation is underway.

In another incident reported from the northern Ardabil city on Saturday, a video published online showed a hospital ambulance parked outside a girls’ school.

Later in the day, doctors at Ardabil Medical Emergency Center told media people that several students had complained of symptoms such as anxiety, breathing difficulties and headache, and were admitted to hospitals.

Majority of these students have since been discharged from the hospitals, officials said.

Also on Saturday, reports of poisonings came from two girls’ schools in the southwestern Khuzestan province with a number of students taken to hospital for treatment.

The first cases of these serial poisonings were reported in November in the central city of Qom when dozens of schoolgirls were hospitalized after complaining of nausea, headache, breathing difficulties, cough, and body pain.

READ: Iran arrests more than 100 people ‘linked to schoolgirl poisonings’

From Qom, the mysterious illness spread to other cities in subsequent weeks, including the capital Tehran, sending ripples of shock.

Until March 20, when the Iranian calendar year ends, at least 1,200 schoolgirls had been admitted to hospitals in several Iranian cities after they complained of poisoning-related symptoms. Some reports put the figure for hospitalizations even higher.

Fresh cases of these serial poisonings were first reported last week in Tabriz and Qom. In Tabriz, at least 20 schoolgirls were taken to hospital after complaining of respiratory problems.

In Qom, the hub of religious tourism, at least seven students were hospitalized for headache and dizziness due to a smell of burnt rubber, reports said.

Similar cases were also reported in the southeastern Kerman province last week with at least nine schoolgirls admitted to hospital and 10 others receiving treatment at their home in Bardsir city.

A parliamentary fact-finding committee investigating the case is supposed to submit its report in May, according to committee head Hamidreza Kazemi.

Last month, Iran’s Interior Ministry announced the arrest of 100 people in multiple provinces including Tehran, Qom, Zanjan, Khuzestan, and West Azerbaijan in connection with poisonings.

The ministry had been asked by President Ebrahim Raisi on March 1 to investigate the cause of the mysterious illness after it sent shockwaves across the country and sparked protests.

The Interior Ministry’s statement, citing preliminary results of the probe, said arrests included people who “out of mischief or adventure and intending to close schools” used “smelly and harmless substances” that resulted in poisonings.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in his first comments on the issue on March 6 called it a “big and unforgivable sin,” instructing authorities to “seriously pursue the matter.”

“If it is proven that the students were poisoned, the perpetrators of this crime should be severely punished. There will be no amnesty for these people,” he said.

Iran’s judiciary chief Mohseni Ejei termed it an example of “corruption on earth” and warned of “exemplary punishment” to those found involved in it.

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