- Iranian state TV reported nine additional deaths on Tuesday morning.
- One of the fatalities was an 11-year-old boy.
- Violence centred on a police station in the Isfahan province.
- Protests have been rocking Iran since Thursday, and the death toll is now 21.
- An Iranian government official said more than 450 people have been arrested.
- Iran’s supreme leader blamed the unrest on “wicked enemies backed by westerners.”
Another bloody night of protests in Iran left nine people dead, bringing the total death toll to at least 21.
State TV in Iran reported the nine additional fatalities on Tuesday morning, according to the Associated Press. They include an 11-year-old boy and a member of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard.
Separately, an Iranian government official said security services had detained more than 450 people since protests began last week.
In a series of tweets, the supreme leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, blamed the unrest on “wicked enemies backed by westerners, easterners, as well as reactionaries of the region.”
According to the state TV broadcast, a focus of violence was a police station in Qahdarijan, in the Isfahan province, which protesters were accused of trying to raid to steal guns.
Gunshots and fire
Footage shared online by the National Council of Resistance of Iran, an opposition group, purported to show the outside of the police station:
Iran Uprising: January 1,2018. Setting ablaze the security force station in Quahdarijan-Esfahan Central Iran.
On January 1, 2018. Outraged people of Quahdarijan, set ablaze thesecurity force station and Khomeini foundation building, …#RegimeChange #Iran #IranianProtests pic.twitter.com/MgaDKRL8Yd
— NCRI-FAC (@iran_policy) January 2, 2018
Gunshots can be heard in the video. A later portion of footage shows the building partly on fire, with members of the crowd throwing projectiles at it.
The demonstrations, the largest to strike Iran since a disputed presidential election in 2009, have seen six days of unrest across the country and a death toll of at least 20.
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The state TV report 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 Revolutionary Guard was killed in the town of Najafabad.
It says all three were shot by hunting rifles, which are common in the Iranian countryside.
The towns are all in Iran’s central Isfahan province, some 215 miles south of Tehran, the capital.
‘Wicked enemies backed by westerners’
Khamenei addressed the protests in a series of tweets Tuesday afternoon in which he blamed the unrest on “enemies of Iran” who he said were using their money, weapons, and intelligence services to fan the flames.
In recent events, enemies of #Iran have allied & used the various means they possess, including money, weapons, politics &intelligence services, to trouble the Islamic Republic. The enemy is always looking for an opportunity & any crevice to infiltrate &strike the Iranian nation. pic.twitter.com/HIXtudRAue
— Khamenei.ir (@khamenei_ir) January 2, 2018
The Iranian nation will forever owe the dear martyrs, who left behind their homes and families, to stand against the wicked enemies backed by westerners, easterners, as well as reactionaries of the region.
— Khamenei.ir (@khamenei_ir) January 2, 2018
Monday night saw 100 new arrests, according to Ali Asghar Naserbakht, the deputy governor of the Tehran province.
He was quoted by the semiofficial ILNA news agency, which in turn was cited by Reuters.
The 100 arrests followed 150 on Sunday and 200 on Saturday, giving a total of 450 over the weekend for that province alone. More have been arrested elsewhere, though figures have not been released.
The protests began Thursday in Mashhad over Iran’s weak economy and a jump in food prices and have expanded to several cities, with some protesters chanting against the government and its religious leadership.
Monday marked the first night of the protests to see a fatality among Iran’s security forces.
President Hassan Rouhani has acknowledged the public’s anger over the Islamic Republic’s flagging economy, though he and others warned that the government wouldn’t hesitate to crack down on those it considered lawbreakers.
That was echoed Monday by Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani, the country’s judiciary chief, who urged authorities to confront rioters, state TV reported.
Other legal figures in Iran have warned protesters that they could be punished with the death penalty.
Response from world leaders
On Tuesday, a spokesman for UK Prime Minister Theresa May called on the Iranian government not to suppress the protests.
In a briefing to reporters, the spokesman said: “We are watching events in Iran closely. We think there should be meaningful debate about the legitimate and important issues that protesters are raising and we are looking to the Iranian authorities to permit that. We would call on all concerned to refrain from violence.”
US President Donald Trump attacked what he called the “brutal and corrupt” Iranian government in a tweet Tuesday supporting the protesters.
The people of Iran are finally acting against the brutal and corrupt Iranian regime. All of the money that President Obama so foolishly gave them went into terrorism and into their “pockets.” The people have little food, big inflation and no human rights. The U.S. is watching!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 2, 2018
The previous day he had tweeted that protests showed it was “TIME FOR CHANGE” in Iran.
The foreign ministry of France said in a statement: “France expresses its concern at the large number of victims and arrests.”
The nation’s foreign affairs minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, is due to visit Iran on Friday, but the foreign ministry could not confirm whether it would still go ahead.
A statement from the Russian Foreign Ministry, cited by Reuters, appeared to agree with Khamenei’s claims that foreign powers were involved in the unrest, and called the interference “unacceptable.”
Russia and Iran are allies in several respects, including their joint support for Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad
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