Nine more people killed in anti-government protests in Iran, according to state TV

2 January 2018, 06:38

Nine more people, including an 11-year-old boy, have been killed as anti-government protests continued across Iran on Tuesday.

That brings the number of people killed in six days of unrest to at least 21 people.

State TV says six rioters were killed in the town of Qahderijan, during an attack on a police station. The clashes were sparked off as protesters tried to steal guns, according to the reports.

Two people, a 20-year-old man and a boy aged 11, died in the town of Khomeinishahr and a member of the Revolutionary Guards was killed in nearby Kahriz Sang.

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, making his first public statement on the violence, claimed "enemies of Iran" had stirred up unrest using "cash, weapons, politics and intelligence apparatus to create trouble for the Islamic Republic".

About 100 people were detained overnight near the central city of Isfahan, according to state TV.

Another 450 have been held over the last three days in the capital Tehran, according to the semi-official INLA.

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Various unverified social media posts from activists, including a number of videos, appeared to show protests from locations across the country.

The head of Tehran's Revolutionary Court reportedly warned protesters they could potentially face the death penalty.

Organisers appear to have used social media to call for more protests in dozens of towns and cities across the country tonight from 5pm local time (1.30pm UK time).

On Monday, a police officer was reportedly shot dead and three others wounded in Najafabad although it wasn't clear if the officer was the same as the Revolutionary Guard member reported dead in Kahriz Sang.

The demonstrations, the largest to strike Iran since its disputed 2009 presidential election, have been sparked by anger over the country's flagging economy and a jump in food prices.

Unemployment and inflation are very high, and a lifting of sanctions in January 2016 has failed to deliver the economic boom many hoped for.

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President Hassan Rouhani called for calm, warning that the government would not tolerate violence.

US President Donald Trump has tweeted in support of the protesters, writing: "The great Iranian people have been repressed for many years. They are hungry for food & for freedom. Along with human rights, the wealth of Iran is being looted. TIME FOR CHANGE!"

Turkey, meanwhile, said it was "concerned" protests were "spreading" and called for "common sense" to prevent "any escalation".

The secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, Ali Shamkhani, blamed the UK, the US and Saudi Arabia for fomenting the protests on social media.

Theresa May's spokesman said the UK Government thinks there should be meaningful debate within Iran on the issues being raised by the protesters.

The protests began on Thursday in the northeastern city of Mashhad, Iran's second-largest, and quickly spread across the nation, with some protesters chanting against the government and Ayatollah Khamenei.

Authorities have also blocked access to some social media sites to try to damp down the protests. Both apps were used by activists to organise the demonstrations and share images and information.

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