Iran protests have violent night; at least 12 dead overall
TEHRAN, Iran (AP):
Nationwide protests in Iran saw their most violent night as "armed protesters" tried to overrun military bases and police stations before security forces repelled them, bringing the death toll in the unrest to at least 12, state television reported yesterday.
The demonstrations, the largest to strike Iran since its disputed 2009 presidential election, began Thursday in Mashhad over economic issues and have since expanded to several cities, with some protesters chanting against the government and the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Hundreds of people have been arrested.
Iranian state television aired footage of a ransacked private bank, broken windows, overturned cars and a firetruck that appeared to have been set ablaze. It reported that clashes Sunday night killed 10 people.
"Some armed protesters tried to take over some police stations and military bases but faced serious resistance from security forces," state TV reported. It did not say where those attacks occurred.
Later Monday, state TV said clashes killed six people in the western town of Tuyserkan, 295 kilometres (185 miles) southwest of Tehran. It said clashes in the town of Shahinshahr, 315 kilometres (195 miles) south of Tehran, killed three more. It did not say where the 10th person was killed.
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 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. Many in Izeh, some 455 kilometres (280 miles) southwest of Tehran, have hunting rifles in their homes.
Two protesters also were killed during clashes late Saturday in Doroud, some 325 kilometres (200 miles) southwest of Tehran in Lorestan province, authorities earlier said.
... Instagram blocked amid Iran protests
On Sunday, Iran blocked access to Instagram and the popular messaging app Telegram used by activists to organise. President Hassan Rouhani 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 considers lawbreakers.
That was echoed yesterday by Iranian judiciary chief Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani, who urged authorities to confront rioters, state TV reported.
"I demand all prosecutors across the country to get involved and approach should be strong," he said.
Rouhani also stressed Monday that Iran "has seen many similar events and passed them easily."
US President Donald Trump, who has been tweeting in support of protesters in Iran, continued into the New Year, describing the country as "failing at every level despite the terrible deal made with them by the Obama Administration".
"The great Iranian people have been repressed for many years," he wrote. "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, calling the protesters "brave" and "heroic," said in a video posted to YouTube on Monday that the protesters sought freedom, justice and "the basic liberties that have been denied to them for decades."
He criticised the Iranian regime's response to the protests and also chided European governments for watching "in silence" as the protests turn violent.
While some have shared Trump's tweets, many in Iran distrust him as he's refused to re-certify the nuclear deal and as his travel bans have blocked Iranians from getting US visas.
State TV also has reported that some protesters invoked the name of the U.S.-backed shah, who fled into exile just before Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution and later died.