Violence on rise in Iran, opposition leader's nephew among dead
MOSCOW, December 28 (RIA Novosti) - According to unofficial sources, at least nine people were killed in violence in Iran, including the nephew of opposition leader Mir-Hossein Mousavi, local media has reported.
The opposition supporters gathered early on Sunday in an apparent attempt to revive anti-government demonstrations that followed presidential elections in June when the opposition, led by defeated candidate Mousavi. Protestors claimed the polls had been rigged in favor of Iran's hardline leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Only five deaths have officially been confirmed, with police saying they were not the result of police violence.
"One of those dead fell from a bridge, two others were hit by cars while one other victim was shot dead by an unknown assailant. Police have identified the person who was shot dead by unknown assailants as [Mir-Hossein Mousavi's nephew] Seyyed Ali Mousavi," Iran's Press TV said, citing a deputy police chief, Ahmad-Reza Radan.
Opposition reported on its websites that at least three people were killed by police and security forces.
The opposition "Rahe Sabz" website said three protesters had been shot dead by security forces in downtown Tehran.
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty quoted a Tehran-based human rights activist as saying that a fourth protester apparently had died after security forces hit him on the head with a truncheon. The Twitter microblogging site offers photos showing a man with a wound to his head being carried away by protestors.
Iranian authorities have banned foreign journalists from many events and imposed tight restrictions on domestic media. Some alleged videos of violence have leaked on to the Internet, however.
"State television put the number of detainees at 300 but opposition groups said that the true figure was considerably higher. Many were arrested for attempting to film the skirmishes on their mobile phones," the Iran Focus news portal said.
The portal said that numerous police vehicles, as well as waste bins were set on fire. It also said some government buildings in Tehran were also set ablaze.
According to the website, protests have also broke out in other major cities including the country's third largest city of Isfahan, western Iranian provincial capitals of Ahwaz and Shahr-e-Kord, as well as the southern provincial capital Shiraz.
The protests, which began in the early hours of Sunday and continued through the night, came as the country marks Ashura, a 10-day period of Shiite religious ceremonies. The event commemorates the death of Imam Hussein, a grandson of the Prophet Mohammed who was killed and beheaded in the Battle of Karbala in 680 AD by the armies of the Sunni caliph Yazid.
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