Violence was reported in Saqqez on April 9 during street protests sparked by a wave of poisoning attacks that targeted at least six girls' schools in Iran’s north-western Kurdish city.
At least 100 pupils were reportedly transferred to medical centers for treatment, and 24 of them were said to be in critical condition.
Angry residents gathered outside Meraj Girls' School and Imam Khomeini Hospital, according to social media footage, as gunshots were reportedly heard in the city.
🎥 امروز ۲۰فروردین همزمان به چند مدرسه دخترانه ازجمله دبیرستان معراج #سقز حمله شیمیایی شده است که به گفته شاهدان عینی دست کم ۵۰ دانشآموز به مراکز درمانی منتقل شدهاند که حال چند تن از آنها نامناسب گزارش شده است.— ایران وایر (@iranwire) April 9, 2023
در پی این موضوع، والدین و تعدادی از شهروندان در محل حاضر و… pic.twitter.com/Dj2WcVLdId
Footage shows the protesters lighting fires and pulling down the flag of the Islamic Republic from the school.
Sources said that security forces blocked roads leading to the school and used force to disperse the demonstrators. Several people were reportedly detained.
A wave of poisoning attacks has hit more than 200 girls’ schools across the country since November 2022, sparking fear and anger among schoolgirls, their parents and Iranian society at large.
More than 13,000 students have suffered poisoning symptoms including nausea, fainting, headaches, coughing, breathing difficulties and heart palpitations, with many requiring treatments in hospital, according to the Health Ministry.
After Iranian authorities announced arrests over the poisonings last month, UN experts criticized the Islamic Republic for failing to protect the schoolgirls, prevent further attacks and conduct swift investigations.
Many Iranians suspect the attacks might be orchestrated by extremists, with the tacit endorsement of the government, to punish girls for their involvement in nationwide protests sparked by the September 2022 death of a young woman, Mahsa Amini, in police custody. Saqqez is Amini’s hometown.