Dozens of schoolgirls suffer in gas attacks in Iran

Dozens of schoolgirls from 26 schools in Iran are treated in hospitals after another attack with poisonous gases and more than 1,000 schoolgirls have been poisoned in this way since November, writes the BBC.
Many Iranians believe that the poisoning was done on purpose to force the closure of girls’ schools. On Wednesday, the 1st of March, Iran’s Minister of Interior Ahmad Vahidi, who was tasked by the president to find the cause of the poisonings, rejected the information from the news agency Fars that three suspects had been arrested. He also blamed foreign media and «mercenary groups» for using the situation to carry out psychological terror and fuss people.

Some schoolgirls and parents indicated that the girls were probably chosen as targets because they participated in protests against the government.

The authorities are under increasing pressure from the public. The BBC’s Persian studio found that at least 830 students, mostly girls, had been poisoned by Sunday, the 26th of February. The representative of the Iranian parliament stated that at least 1,200 girls were poisoned in Qum and Borujerd alone until Tuesday, the 28th of February.
Those exposed to the poisonous gases are said to first smell tangerines or rotten fish before feeling sick. Alireza Monadi-Sefidan, chairman of the Parliament’s Education Committee, stated that the poisonous gases contained nitrogen; this was denied by the Minister of the Interior.
A parent told the BBC: «My daughter and two of her friends said they heard what sounded like an explosion and immediately afterward smelled a foul smell – like burning plastic. They told her to leave the classroom and go into the yard. Many of the schoolgirls started fainting in the yard. There are children in my daughter’s class with heart problems and asthma. Then the police and the ambulance came. The girls were given milk.»

Iran’s deputy health minister stated on the 26th of February that it looks like there are people who want all schools, especially girls’ schools, to be closed.

He later stated that what he said was misunderstood. Meanwhile, theories are rife that the poisonings are in retaliation for mass protests that erupted in September after a young woman was killed by virtue police. Authorities characterized the protests as riots and responded with brutal force. Human rights groups report that hundreds of protesters have been killed, including dozens of children.
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