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Raeisi orders probe into poisoning of schoolgirls; Min. debunks media claims

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Iranian President Ebrahim Raeisi (C) heads a cabinet meeting on March 1, 2023. (Photo by president.ir)

Iran's President Ebrahim Raeisi on Wednesday instructed Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi to carry out a thorough investigation to find the root cause of the mysterious wave of poisoning of schoolgirls in different Iranian cities.

Raiesi tasked Vahidi to find the cause of the issue "as soon as possible" and announce the results to alleviate the concerns of affected families.

The order comes as hundreds of schoolgirls have been hospitalized in different Iranian cities in recent months due to the mysterious poisoning. 

Addressing a press conference on Wednesday, Vahidi said a meeting was held with officials from responsible bodies to follow up on the issue.

He, however, dismissed reports that a student has been paralyzed as a result of poisoning, and that any arrests have been made.

The investigations do not prove the use of any special element yet, the minister stressed, adding that no arrests have been made in the case.

He said security bodies are investigating whether the serial incidents are a result of “personal adventurism” or “factors outside schools.”

“Our enemies are trying to disturb the country and fuel fear in the hearts of our loved ones,” he said, referring to the foreign media propaganda in recent days which has focused on the issue to depict the country as insecure and against women’s rights.

One of the conspiracy theories promoted in the media is that the poisoning is targeting girls to imply opposition to women’s rights in Iran.

The incidents of poisoning started in Qom in late November before expanding to other provinces such as Ardabil, Tehran, Lorestan, Fars, Ilam, Qazvin, and Mazandaran, according to a report in Mehr News Agency.

Speaking on Tuesday, Health Minister Bahram Eynollahi said that a special committee, comprised of the country’s top toxicologists, was formed to investigate the issue and their studies showed that the toxicant used has had “slight” impacts.

Western and foreign-based Persian-language media, meanwhile, have been busy disseminating rumors and misinformation to fuel concern in society, especially among parents whose children have been affected.


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