Khamenei: Poisoning of schoolgirls is ‘unforgivable crime’

A handout picture provided by the office of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on March 6, 2023 shows him speaking following a ceremony marking the week of "Natural Resources" in Tehran. Khamenei said on the same day that poisoning of Iranian schoolgirls in recent months is an "unforgivable" crime. (PHOTO / AFP)

DUBAI – Iran's supreme leader said on Monday that poisoning of Iranian schoolgirls in recent months is an "unforgivable" crime amid spread of suspected poisoning across the country with hundreds of girls hospitalized.

"Authorities should seriously pursue the issue of students' poisoning. This is an unforgivable crime… the perpetrators of this crime should be severely punished," Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was quoted as saying by state media.

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Over a thousand Iranian girls in different schools have suffered "mild poison" attacks since November, according to state media and officials, with some politicians suggesting they could have been targeted by religious groups opposed to girls' education.

The spreading attacks that started in November in the holy Shi'ite Muslim city of Qom in central Iran have spread to at least 25 of Iran's 31 provinces, prompting some parents to take their children out of school and hold protests against the establishment.