Iran’s deputy interior minister on Tuesday announced the first arrests in a spate of mystery poisonings of schoolgirls which have gripped the country for the past several months.
“Based on the intelligence and research measures of the intelligence agencies, a number of people have been arrested in five provinces and the relevant agencies are conducting a full investigation,” Majid Mirahmadi told state television.
More than 5,000 Iranian schoolchildren have been affected by the spate of poisonings that has targeted mainly female pupils since late November, according to a lawmaker investigating the cases.
The mystery poisonings have gripped Iran, triggering a wave of anger and demands for action from the authorities.
Calling the poisonings an “unforgivable crime,” Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei gave orders Monday for the perpetrators to be tracked down “without mercy.”
Scores of schools have been hit, with pupils suffering symptoms ranging from shortness of breath to nausea and vertigo after reporting “unpleasant” odours on school premises. Some have been treated in hospitals.