At Least 12 Killed in Government Protests in Iran

At least 12 people have been killed in four days of demonstrations in Iran, state media reported, in the biggest challenge to the authority of the Tehran regime since mass protests in 2009.

The protests began Thursday in Mashhad over economic issues and have expanded to several cities, with some protesters chanting against the government and the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Hundreds of people have been arrested, according to officials and social media sites.

Iranian state TV is reporting that 10 people have been killed amid nationwide protests, without elaborating. Ten protesters have already been killed after clashes broke out with security forces. "Some armed protesters tried to take over some police stations and military bases but faced serious resistance from security forces", state TV said. It was not clear if the two dead were part of the 10 cited on state television.

Earlier on Monday, the semi-official ILNA news agency quoted Hedayatollah Khademi, a representative for the town of Izeh, as saying two people died there on Sunday night.

He said the cause of death wasn't immediately known, though authorities later described one of the deaths as the result of a personal dispute.

"The government will show no tolerance for those who damage public properties, violate public order and create unrest in the society", Rouhani said in remarks carried by state TV.

They have spread to small towns throughout the country and have the potential to grow in size.

Two protesters also were killed during clashes late Saturday in Doroud, some 325 kilometers (200 miles) southwest of Tehran in Lorestan province, authorities have said.

Mr Durov explained in a Telegram post that a major foreign-based opposition channel, Amadnews, was blocked on Saturday by Telegram after it called for violence against police. That was echoed Monday by judiciary chief Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani, who urged authorities to confront rioters, state TV reported.

"We encourage all parties to protect this fundamental right to peaceful expression and to avoid any actions that contribute to censorship", the statement said.




Rouhani also stressed Monday that Iran "has seen many similar events and passed them easily".

MARTIN: An Iranian journalist, who spoke with the protester, asked her, why take the risk when Iran's security forces are so powerful?

Demonstrators say they are angry over corruption and economic hardship in a country where youth unemployment reached 28.8 percent last year. "The people are finally getting wise as to how their money and wealth is being stolen and squandered on terrorism".

The protests drew global attention as activists began posting photos and videos of the demonstrations to social media.

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The authorities are said to have restricted access to social media however videos posted on line have shown crowds of people calling for the religious establishment to step down.

The protests have put pressure on the clerical leaders in power since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Since the repression of the 2009 protests against a disputed presidential election that gave hardliner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad a second term, many middle-class Iranians have abandoned hope of securing change from the streets. The Fars news agency reported on 'scattered groups' of protesters in the capital Tehran and said a ringleader was arrested. "Under the nuclear deal, the regime could someday produce nuclear weapons".

Iran's semi-official Mehr news agency said an assailant using a hunting rifle killed a policeman and wounded three other officers during a demonstration in the central city of Najafabad, about 200 miles south of Tehran. While the protests have sparked clashes, Iran's paramilitary Revolutionary Guard and its affiliates have not intervened as they have in other unauthorized demonstrations since the 2009 election.

One Iranian, who requested anonymity, told Reuters there was a heavy police presence in Tehran.

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