Iranian police have arrested 450 protesters in the capital over the past three days, a semi-official news agency says, as a police crackdown intensifies against anti-government demonstrations that began last week. Security forces have struggled to contain protests that broke out last Thursday and have continued nationwide in the boldest challenge in years to the country’s clerical leadership.
Iranian state television reported that nine people were killed overnight, with the overall death toll standing at least 20. The ILNA news agency report quoted Ali Asghar Nasserbakht, a security deputy governor of Tehran, offering the figure of 450 arrests.
Mr Nasserbakht said 200 protesters were arrested on Saturday, 150 on Sunday and 100 on Monday. He said the situation in Tehran was under control and the police had not asked for the help of the Revolutionary Guards special forces. State TV said six rioters were killed during an attack on a police station in the town of Qahdarijan. It said those clashes were sparked by rioters who tried to steal guns from the police station.
State TV also reported that 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 said all were shot by hunting rifles.
The towns are all in Iran’s central Isfahan province, around 350 kilometres south of Tehran. The unrest is the worst since crowds took to the streets in 2009 to condemn the re-election of then-president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. One member of the security forces was reported killed on Monday. No figure for the number of protesters has yet been offered for other cities.