Iran protests: Nine deaths reported after night of violence
At least 20 dead since unrest over economic hardships and alleged corruption erupted on Thursday
Nine people have been killed overnight amid nationwide protests and unrest in Iran, according to state television reports.
The death toll after six days of demonstrations in the country has risen to at least 20 people.
As security forces struggled to contain the boldest challenge to the clerical leadership since unrest in 2009, state TV said six rioters were killed during an attack on a police station in the town of Qahdarijan.
It reported that clashes were sparked by rioters who tried to steal guns from the police station.
State TV said an 11-year-old boy and a 20-year-old man were killed in the town of Khomeinishahr, while a member of Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard was killed in the town of Najafabad.
It says all were shot by hunting rifles. The towns are all in Iran’s central Isfahan province, some 300km south of Tehran.
Some 13 people were reported killed on Sunday in the worst wave of unrest since crowds took to the streets in 2009 to condemn the re-election of then-president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
The protests have put pressure on the clerical leaders in power since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
President Hassan Rouhani made a televised call for calm on Sunday, saying Iranians had the right to criticise but must not cause unrest.
“The government will show no tolerance for those who damage public property, violate public order and create unrest in society,” he said.
Hundreds have been arrested, according to officials and social media.
Protests against economic hardships and alleged corruption erupted in Iran’s second city of Mashhad on Thursday and escalated across the country into calls for the religious establishment to step down.
Some of the anger was directed at Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, breaking a taboo surrounding the man who has been supreme leader of Iran since 1989.
Video posted on social media showed crowds of people walking through the streets, some chanting “Death to the dictator!”
Unsigned statements on social media urged Iranians to continue to demonstrate in 50 towns and cities.
The government said it was temporarily restricting access to the Telegram messaging app and Instagram. There were reports that internet mobile access was blocked in some areas.
US president Donald Trump tweeted: “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!”
Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the “brave Iranians” taking to streets to protest a regime that “wastes tens of billions of dollars spreading hate”.
“I wish the Iranian people success in their noble quest for freedom,” he said in a video posted on his Facebook page. - AP/Reuters.