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Arrests Continue As State TV Confirms Eight Killed In Iran Protests

Last updated (GMT/UTC): 28.12.2009 14:19

(RFE/RL) -- Iranian security forces today continued to arrest protesters and prominent opposition members who took part in two days of deadly demonstrations in Tehran and other cities.

Iranian police said they have detained some 300 protesters so far.

Opposition and reformist websites such as Parlemannews and Norooz report that the authorities have detained at least 10 prominent reformists, including three aides to Mir Hossein Musavi, the leader of the Green opposition movement and a defeated candidate in last June's contested presidential elections.

Others are said to include two men who help run a foundation, Baran, set up by reformist former President Mohammad Khatami, in addition to the secretary-general of the Freedom Movement of Iran, Ebrahim Yazdi, and human rights activist Emad Baghi.

Amir Khorram, a high-ranking member of the Freedom Movement, told RFE/RL’s Radio Farda that Yazdi was arrested in his home early today.

“The only explanation for Yazdi’s arrest is that authorities want to put pressure on the Freedom Movement," Khorram says. "They want us to stop our activities.”

The protests culminated on December 27, the high point of the Ashura festival, when thousands of demonstrators poured onto the streets of the Iranian capital shouting "Death to Khamenei!" and other antigovernment slogans.

Security forces reacted with truncheons, tear gas, and bullets.

Iranian state-run television confirmed that eight people were killed in the clashes, although police denied any involvement, saying their officers had only fired into the air. This marks the highest death toll in Iran since street protests and violence erupted after the June 12 disputed presidential elections.

Among those killed was Musavi's 35-year-old nephew, Ali.

His brother, quoted by the Parlemannews website today, said Ali's body had been taken away from the hospital and could not be located, making a funeral impossible.

Reports from today say police fired tear gas to disperse Musavi supporters who had gathered to express their condolences over Ali's death.

"A group of Musavi supporters have gathered in front of Ebn-e Sina hospital where his nephew's body was kept...Police fired tear gas to disperse them," the Norooz website reported.

In a statement posted on a reformist website, opposition leader Mehdi Karrubi asked how the authorities could have spilled the blood of innocent people during Ashura, a major festival in Shi'ite Islam commemorating the death of a grandson of the Prophet Muhammad in the 7th century.

Its culmination on December 27 coincided with the seventh day since the death of Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, one of Iran’s most prominent dissidents and an outspoken critic of the government.

with agency reports

Source: http://www.rferl.org/content/Arrests_Continue_As_State_TV_Confirms_Eight_Killed_In_Iran_Protests/1915551.html

Copyright (c) 2009. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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