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Iran rocked by fifth night of deadly anti-government protests

© Handout / Mehr News / AFP | An image grab taken from a handout video released by Iran's Mehr News agency reportedly shows a group of men pushing traffic barriers in a street in Tehran on December 30, 2017.

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2018-01-02

Clashes overnight between protesters and security forces in central Iran killed nine people, state television reported Tuesday, as Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei blamed Iran’s “enemies” for the unrest that has rocked the country since last week.

Six protesters were killed in clashes with security forces as they tried to storm a police station in the town of Qahderijan in central Iran, which has a population of around 30,000.

A member of the Revolutionary Guards was killed in nearby Kahriz Sang, and a passer-by in the town of Kahriz Sang – all in the region around the cultural centre of Isfahan.

Around 100 people were arrested overnight in the same region, Iranian state television reported.

Earlier reports had already said a policeman was killed and three others injured in Najafabad after being shot with a hunting rifle.

That brings the estimated death toll to 21 since the start of anti-government protests, which began last Thursday in Mashhad, Iran's second-largest city, and quickly spread across the country.

Khamenei breaks his silence

In his first comments since the start of the unrest, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Tuesday accused Iran's "enemies" of orchestrating a plot to infiltrate and target the regime.

"In the events of recent days, the enemies have united and are using all their means, money, weapons, policies and security services to create problems for the Islamic regime," Khamenei said in a statement shown on state television.

"The enemy is always looking for an opportunity and any crevice to infiltrate and strike the Iranian nation," he added.

Video: ‘Iranian authorities are very worried’

The unrest has remained focused on provincial towns and cities, with only sporadic protests reported in Tehran on Monday evening.

The semi-official ILNA news agency in Iran reported on Tuesday that 450 people had been arrested over three days in Tehran since Saturday.

ILNA quoted Ali Asghar Nasserbakht, a deputy governor of Tehran, as saying 200 protesters were arrested on Saturday, 150 on Sunday and a further 100 yesterday.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP)

Date created : 2018-01-02

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