Reports from Tehran say a girls' high school has been targeted by a chemical attack, as the authorities are investigating a series of poisonings that have affected hundreds of schoolgirls over the past three months.
An object thrown into the yard of Khayyam High School exploded, releasing a poisonous gas, the reports said on February 28.
Social media footage shows scores of schoolgirls sitting on the ground, with one student shouting, "Everybody’s dying!"
An unknown number of girls suffered from poisoning symptoms.
Since late November, reports indicate that at least 352 school students, mostly girls, have been treated for poisoning symptoms in the central city of Qom, including nausea, headaches, coughing, breathing difficulties, and heart palpitations.
روز سه شنبه ۹ اسفند یک دبیرستان دخترانه دیگر در فاز یازده شهر پردیس استان تهران، هدف حمله با گازهای سمی قرار گرفت.#اطلاع_رسانی #مسمومیت_دانشآموزان #شهروندخبرنگار pic.twitter.com/BrtRLXE2yW— ایران وایر (@iranwire) February 28, 2023
MP Abdul Ali Rahimi Mozafari has said that similar incidents took place in schools in at least nine other Iranian cities.
On February 26, Deputy Health Minister Younes Panahi implicitly confirmed the poisonings had been deliberate, saying that "some people wanted all schools, especially girls' schools, to be closed," according to the IRNA state news agency.
He did not elaborate.
There have been speculations that Shia fundamentalists may have been involved in the poisonings.
So far, no arrest has been announced in relation to the poisonings, which have sparked outrage among the families of the affected students.
On February 14, they held a protest outside the governor’s office in Qom, criticizing the authorities for failing to find the cause of the poisonings and urging them to ensure the safety of their children.
Iran’s most prominent Sunni cleric, Molavi Abdolhamid, has denounced what he called the "inhumane, anti-Islamic” attacks against women’s education and a “revenge for their recent uprising.”
Iranian women and girls have been at the forefront of more than five months of nationwide protests demanding more freedoms and women’s rights.
The security forces have cracked down hard on the protest movement, killing more than 520 people and illegally detaining over 19,000, activists say. Following biased trials, the judiciary has handed down stiff sentences, including the death penalty, to protesters. Four young men were executed amid international condemnation.