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Death toll rises in Iran as protests intensify

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, were killed on Tuesday during unrest sweeping the country, Iranian authorities said, as anger over the killing of a woman in morals police custody fueled protests on a fifth day.

Official sources now say that a total of seven people have been killed since protests erupted on Saturday over the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman from Iranian Kurdistan, who died last week after being arrested in Tehran for her “inappropriate clothes”.

Reports from the Kurdish rights group Hingaw said seven protesters were killed by security forces, three of them on Tuesday, in or near Kurdish areas in the northwest where the unrest was particularly severe and deadly.

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Officials denied that security forces had killed protesters.

Hengao also said access to the internet had been cut off in the Kurdistan region – a move that would impede sharing of videos from an area where authorities had previously suppressed minority Kurdish unrest. Read more

The NetBlocks and population monitor said Iran has restricted access to Instagram, the only major social media platform that Iran does not normally block. A senior official recently said it has about 48 million users in the country.

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The Minister of Communications said he was mistakenly quoted after the media quoted him as saying that the authorities might disrupt internet services for security reasons. Read more

Amini’s death unleashed anger over issues including freedoms in the Islamic Republic and an economy reeling from sanctions. Women waved and burned their headscarves during the protests, and some cut their hair in public.

After it began on Saturday with Amini’s funeral in the Kurdish region, protests swept across most of the country, leading to 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.

The Kurdistan police chief, in statements to the semi-official Tasnim news agency on Wednesday, confirmed the killing of four people earlier this week in the Kurdistan region. He said they were hit by a bullet that the security forces did not use, saying that the “gangsters” wanted to blame police and security officials.

Hengao said a total of 450 people were wounded, as well as seven Kurdish protesters who she said had died as a result of “direct fire” from government forces in the past four days. Reuters could not independently confirm the casualty reports.

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. Read more

Her father said she had no health problems and had bruised her legs in custody. He holds the police responsible for her death. The police denied harming her.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has called for an impartial investigation into her death and allegations of torture and ill-treatment. Read more

death to the dictator

Videos circulated on social media also showed protesters harming symbols of the Islamic Republic and confronting security forces.

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One showed a man climbing the facade of a city hall in the northern city of Sari and tearing up an image of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who founded the Islamic Republic after the 1979 revolution.

The semi-official Iranian Students’ News Agency said 12 ambulances were attacked and banks and public property were damaged in several cities. Protesters accused police of using ambulances to transport troops and detain protesters

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.

State media and officials have portrayed the unrest as riots by “counter-revolutionary elements”.

Elements of the Basij, a militia affiliated with Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, held their own rallies in Tehran on Wednesday. “The morality police are just an excuse, what they are targeting is the system itself,” they chanted in a video on the 1500tasvir website.

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

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.