Multiple girls’ schools across Iran were targeted by gas attacks on April 11, as the authorities barred the media from reporting on a wave of poisonings that have shaken the country for more than four months.
Schools in at least seven cities - Tabriz, Isfahan, Shahinshahr, Genaveh, Kermanshah, Ashnaveih and Kamiyaran - were targeted on April 11, according to activist groups.
Eyewitnesses said there were not enough oxygen masks and ambulances to respond to the incidents at several schools.
Parents of students at Ansari Girls' School in Shahinshahr said that school staff locked the doors of the building to prevent pupils from leaving.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Guidance of the Islamic Republic instructed local media not to cover the poisonings at girls’ schools, citing concerns that it could create "disturbing waves" in society.
The ministries urged journalists to rely only on information provided by the Ministries of Education and Interior.
Since November 2022, more than 13,000 students have suffered symptoms including nausea, fainting, headaches, coughing, breathing difficulties and heart palpitations, with many requiring treatments in hospital.
The poisonings have sparked fear and anger among schoolgirls, their parents and Iranian society at large.
The attacks have led to calls for increased security measures at schools across the country, with several principals reportedly asking parents to keep their children at home.
After Iranian authorities announced arrests over the poisonings last month, UN experts criticized the Islamic Republic for failing to protect the schoolgirls, prevent further attacks and conduct swift investigations.
The experts said the attacks might be “orchestrated to punish girls” for their involvement in nationwide protests sparked by the September 2022 death of a young woman in police custody.