Death toll rises in Iran as protests intensify

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  • Among the dead was a member of the security forces
  • Unrest has swept Iran since the death of a young woman in custody
  • A video on social media shows a new protest at Tehran University

DUBAI, Sept 21 (Reuters) – Three people, including a member of the security forces, have been killed during unrest sweeping the country, Iranian authorities said on Wednesday, as anger over the death of a woman in police custody fueled protests for a fifth day.

Rights groups reported that at least one more person was killed on Tuesday, bringing the death toll to at least seven.

The death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who was arrested by morality police in Tehran last week for “inappropriate clothing”, has sparked outrage over issues including freedoms in the Islamic Republic and the economy reeling from sanctions.

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After it began Saturday with Amini’s funeral in Iran’s Kurdistan region, protests swept across most of the country, sparking confrontations as security forces sought to suppress them.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei did not mention the protests – some of Iran’s worst unrest since street clashes last year over water shortages – during a speech on Wednesday to commemorate the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war. Read more

One of Khamenei’s top aides offered his condolences to Amini’s family this week, promising to follow up on the case and saying the Supreme Leader was touched and pained by her death.

The official IRNA news agency said a “police assistant” died of his wounds on Tuesday in the southern city of Shiraz.

“Some people clashed with police officers and this resulted in the death of a police assistant. Four police officers were injured in this incident,” the agency said. The official IRNA news agency quoted an official as saying that 15 protesters were arrested in Shiraz.

In Kermanshah, the city’s public prosecutor said two people were killed on Tuesday in riots. “We are sure that counter-revolutionary elements did them because the victims were killed with weapons that the security apparatus did not use,” the semi-official Fars news agency quoted Public Prosecutor Shahram Karami as saying.

Two Kurdish human rights groups – Hingaw and the Kurdistan Network for Human Rights – said a 43-year-old man was killed by security forces’ fire on Tuesday in Urmia, a city in West Azerbaijan province.

There was no official confirmation of that death.

Amini fell into a coma and died while waiting with other women held by the morality police, which enforce strict rules in the Islamic Republic requiring women to cover their hair and wear loose clothing in public.

Her father said that she had no health problems and that she suffered bruises on her legs in custody and that the police are responsible for her death. The police denied harming her.

Tehran Rally

Women were heavily present at the protests, with many waving or burning headscarves, or cutting their hair in public.

Videos circulated on social media also showed protesters harming symbols of the Islamic Republic.

One showed a man climbing the facade of a city hall in the northern city of Sari and tearing up the image of Ayatollah Khomeini, who established Iran’s Islamic government after the 1979 revolution.

A video shared by 1500tasvir showed people swarming again on Wednesday in Tehran, as hundreds chanted “Death to the dictator” at Tehran University.

Reuters was unable to verify the authenticity of the videos.

The Kurdish rights group Hingao said that the Internet was completely cut off in the Kurdistan region, where protests have intensified in particular, and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards have a history of suppressing unrest.

It also reported the killing of another man on Tuesday in Piranshahr, also in West Azerbaijan province, while it said another died of wounds sustained on Monday in Saqqaz, Amini’s hometown.

There was no official confirmation of these deaths.

Hengao said all the civilians she reported killed were Kurds.

The governor of the Kurdistan region blamed the deaths of three men in the Kurdistan region on unspecified terrorist groups. Hengao said they were killed when security forces opened fire.

Tehran’s governor said authorities had identified 1,800 people “with a history of participating in previous riots, of whom 700 had important records in various police, security and judicial institutions.”

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Reporting from the Dubai Newsroom. Written by Tom Perry Editing by Andrew Cawthorne and William MacLean

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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