The affair caused a strong emotion in the country. Iran has announced the first arrests in the investigation into the series of poisonings that affected thousands of schoolgirls. Deputy Interior Minister Majid Mirahmadi appeared on state television on Tuesday (March 7) to announce that “several people” had “been arrested in five provinces” based on “intelligence investigations.” “. He did not give details of their identity, the circumstances of their arrest and their alleged involvement.

A day earlier, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei had intervened to demand “severe sentences” for those found guilty of the acts, which he called “unforgivable crimes”. They “must be sentenced to severe penalties” and “there will be no amnesty” for them, warned Iran’s highest authority, which was discussing the case for the first time.

In total, “more than 5,000 students have been affected” in “some 230 schools” located in 25 of the country’s 31 provinces since the end of November, Mohammad-Hassan Asafari, a member of the parliamentary inquiry, said on Tuesday. responsible for shedding light on the causes of this wave of poisonings.

Several students hospitalized

Each time, the phenomenon has repeated itself: students in girls’ schools breathe in “unpleasant” or “unknown” odors and then show symptoms such as nausea, shortness of breath and dizziness. “A very bad smell spread all of a sudden, I felt bad and fell on the floor,” said a schoolgirl.

Some of the students are briefly hospitalized but none have so far been seriously affected. “No dangerous substances were detected in those who were examined at the medical centers,” according to the Interior Ministry. Mr. Asafari clarified that the “tests carried out to identify” these substances had not made it possible to determine them with certainty.

On Sunday, Majid Mirahmadi had accused the “perpetrators of the girls’ poisoning” of wanting to “close the schools”, but also of “blaming the system” in order to “rekindle the extinguished flame of the riots”. He was thus referring to the protest movement sparked in Iran by the death on September 16 of Mahsa Amini, a young woman detained by the morality police who accused her of having violated the strict dress code imposing in particular on women the wearing of the veil. For his part, President Ebrahim Ra├»si called on the state services to “defeat the plot of the enemy” who “wants to sow fear, insecurity and despair”.