Tehran : Nine people were killed as fresh unrest hit Iran overnight, state television said on Tuesday, with protesters trying to storm a police station despite attempts to crack down on the biggest demonstrations in years.
The attack on the police station in the town of Qahderijan, in the central province of Isfahan, led to violence that claimed the lives of six protesters, the state broadcaster reported.
A young member of the Revolutionary Guards and a passer-by were also reported dead in towns near the cultural hub of Isfahan city, while TV had earlier confirmed the death of a policeman in nearby Najafabad, shot dead with a hunting rifle.
That brings the estimated death toll to 21 in five days of unrest that represent the biggest challenge to the Islamic government since mass demonstrations in 2009.
In his first comments since protests began last week, Iran’s supreme leader on Tuesday accused enemies of the Islamic Republic of stirring unrest.
The US ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, hailed the protests on Tuesday and called for an emergency session of the security council to discuss Iran.
US President Donald Trump, who has been tweeting daily in support of the protesters, said on Tuesday: “The people of Iran are finally acting against the brutal and corrupt Iranian regime... The people have little food, big inflation and no human rights. The U.S. is watching!”
Meanwhile, some 450 people have been arrested in Tehran over the past three days, an official told local media on Tuesday.
“Two hundred people were arrested on Saturday, 150 on Sunday and around 100 on Monday,” Ali-Asghar Naserbakht, a deputy in the Tehran city governor’s office, told the reformist-linked ILNA news agency. Protests remain focused on provincial towns and cities, with only small and sporadic protests in Tehran on Monday evening where a heavy police presence was reported.
The latest violence came despite President Hassan Rouhani’s vow that the nation would deal with “rioters and lawbreakers”.
“People have had enough, especially the young people. They have nothing to be happy about,” said Sarita Mohammadi, a 35-year-old teacher in Tehran.
“The situation is far worse in the provinces. Agriculture has been destroyed. I know many who have left the north of the country to come to Tehran to work,” she added.
US President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly criticised Tehran over several days of demonstrations, said it was “time for a change” and that Iran’s people were “hungry” for freedom. The European Union on Monday pushed Iran to guarantee the right to protest and separately British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said “the UK is watching events in Iran closely”.