Iran’s government has admitted to an ongoing investigation into a series of poison gas attacks on girls’ schools in the country. The attacks, which have been ongoing since November 30, have resulted in the poisoning of 830 children in 21 provinces, according to a recent report by the BBC. Local officials, however, have claimed that the number of victims is far higher, with 1,200 girls reportedly gassed in Khoom and Borujerd alone.
The poison gas attacks are believed to be the work of extremist religious groups seeking to close mosques and prevent girls from receiving an education. Videos of affected children being hospitalized with symptoms such as dizziness, vomiting, shortness of breath, and weakness after inhaling the gas have been circulating on social media, sparking protests from women across the country.
The use of poison gas targeting girls’ education comes amidst ongoing tensions in Iran surrounding women’s rights. Protests have been taking place since September following the death of Mahsa Amini, who died in custody after being arrested by religious affairs police for not covering her head in accordance with the law.
Officials have stated that the poison gas incidents have occurred in 52 schools across 21 of Iran’s 30 provinces. Home Minister Ahmed Vahidi has confirmed that investigating officers have collected samples from the affected areas in order to determine the cause of the attacks.
The Iranian government has been criticized by human rights organizations for its response to the poison gas attacks, with some accusing officials of initially attempting to cover up the incidents. However, with the government now acknowledging the investigation, there is hope that those responsible for the attacks will be brought to justice, and steps will be taken to prevent further targeting of girls’ education in Iran.