Iran leader blames foreign meddling as nine die overnight

AP, TEHRAN

Wed, Jan 03, 2018 - Page 1

Clashes overnight between protesters and security forces in Iran killed nine people, state television reported yesterday, including some rioters who tried to storm a police station to steal weapons.

The demonstrations have seen six days of unrest across the nation and a death toll of at least 20.

Offering his first comments since they began, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei yesterday accused the “enemies of Iran” of meddling in the nation’s affairs.

The protests over Iran’s weak economy and a jump in food prices have expanded to several cities, with some protesters chanting against the government and Khamenei. Hundreds of people have been arrested and a judge yesterday said that some could face death penalty trials.

The Tasnim news agency quoted Mousa Ghazanfarabadi, head of Tehran’s Revolutionary Court, as saying: “Obviously one of their charges can be Moharebeh,” or waging war against God, which is a death penalty offense.

Ghazanfarabadi was also quoted as saying some protesters will come to trial soon on charges of acting against national security and damaging public property.

State TV reported that six people were killed during an attack on a police station in the town of Qahdarijan. It reported that clashes were sparked by rioters who tried to steal guns from the police station.

State TV also said 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 Revolutionary Guard was killed in the town of Najafabad.

It said all three were shot by hunting rifles, which are common in the Iranian countryside.

Monday marked the first night to see a fatality among Iran’s security forces.

All the protest rallies so far have not received prior permission from the Iranian Ministry of the Interior, making them illegal.

In comments posted to his official Web site, Khamenei appeared to blame foreign nations for at least exacerbating the unrest.

“In the recent days’ incidents, enemies of Iran utilized various means — including money, weapon, politics and intelligence apparatuses — to create problems for the Islamic system,” he said.

Khamenei said he would elaborate further in the coming days.

In Tehran alone, 450 protesters have been arrested in the past three days, the Iranian Labor News Agency news agency reported yesterday.