Iran police shoot at those protesting plane shootdown
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Online videos appeared to show Iranian security forces firing live ammunition and tear gas to disperse protests as popular anger swelled Monday over the accidental shoot down of a Ukrainian jetliner and Iran’s failed attempt to conceal its role in the tragedy.
The unrest comes amid soaring tensions between Washington and Tehran that have raised fears of a war between the two countries after a US airstrike killed Iranian General Qassem Soleimani.
Iran responded with a ballistic missile attack on two bases housing US troops in Iraq, without hurting anyone.
It accidentally shot down the plane hours later as it braced for a US counterattack that never came.
Videos sent to the New York-based Center for Human Rights in Iran and later verified by The Associated Press show a crowd of demonstrators near Azadi, or Freedom, Square fleeing as a tear gas canister lands among them. People cough and sputter while trying to escape the fumes, with one woman calling out in Farsi: “They fired tear gas at people! Azadi Square! Death to the dictator!”
Another video shows a woman being carried away in the aftermath as a trail of blood can be seen on the ground.
Those around her cry out that she has been shot in the leg.
“Oh my God, she’s bleeding nonstop!” one person shouts. Another shouts: “Bandage it!”
Photos and video after the incident show pools of blood on the sidewalk.
Tehran’s police chief, Gen. Hossein Rahimi, later denied his officers opened fire.