Gunmen on motorbikes in Iran killed nine people, including two children, in mysterious attacks as protests over the death of Mahsa Amini intensified on the anniversary of the bloody 2019 crackdown.
A protester was killed in Bukan on Thursday, the Oslo-based rights group Hengaw said, after reporting at least 10 people killed during street battles in western Iran on Wednesday.
The motorcycle attacks came as protests over Mahsa Amini’s death in custody on September 16, after she was arrested for allegedly flouting Iran’s women’s dress code, intensified on the third anniversary of a bloody crackdown on unrest over high rises. fuel prices.
The uproar over the brutal enforcement of the mandatory hijab law has fueled the unrest, but has grown into a broad movement against the ideology that has ruled Iran since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
In some of the worst violence since the protests began, attackers on motorcycles shot dead seven people, including a woman and two children aged nine and 13, in the western city of Izeh on Wednesday evening, state media said.
“A terrorist group took advantage of a gathering of protesters in front of the district’s central market to open fire on people and security officers,” the official IRNA news agency reported.
Eight people were injured, including three policemen and two members of the Basij paramilitary force linked to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, IRNA added.
This is the second attack that the authorities have blamed on “terrorists” since protests erupted across the country over Amini’s death, after at least 13 people were killed at a shrine in the southern city of Shiraz on October 26.
– A nine-year-old boy was killed –
But a family member of the slain nine-year-old boy, identified as Kian Pirfalak, accused Iranian security forces of carrying out the attack, in a tweet shared by Radio Farda, a US-funded and based Persian station in Prague.
“He was going home with his father and the corrupt regime of the Islamic Republic targeted him with bullets. Their car was attacked from all four sides,” the unidentified family member is heard saying in an audio recording.
In a separate attack hours later in Iran’s third city of Isfahan, two assailants on a motorcycle fired automatic weapons at Basij members, killing two of them and wounding two others, the Fars news agency said.
Ultra-conservative President Ebrahim Raisi ordered the authorities to “act promptly to identify the perpetrators of the attack and hand them over to the justice system for punishment”, Fars reported.
Elsewhere, the security forces were accused of killing at least 10 people within a 24-hour period during protests in the cities of Bukan, Kamyaran, Sanandaj and Amini’s hometown of Saqez, Hengaw said late Wednesday.
The rights group, which monitors violations in Kurdish-populated areas, said there were strikes Thursday in those four cities as well as others including Dehgolan, Ilam, Mahabad and Ravanasar.
Iran for Human Rights, another Oslo-based organization, said in an updated toll released on Wednesday that security forces have killed at least 342 people, including 43 children and 26 women, in the crackdown since Amini’s death.
The human rights group said at least 15,000 people were arrested – a figure denied by Iranian authorities.
– ‘Sham Trials’ –
Iran has handed down five death sentences since Sunday in connection with the protests that shook the clerical leadership of the Islamic Republic.
Amnesty International on Wednesday condemned the “cold-blooded use of the death penalty to suppress popular uprisings”.
The London-based rights group said authorities were seeking the death penalty for at least 21 people in “sham trials designed to intimidate” the protest movement.
“Iranian authorities must immediately annul all death sentences, refrain from seeking the death penalty and drop all charges against those arrested for their peaceful participation in protests,” said Amnesty’s Diana Eltahawy.
“Two months into the popular uprising and three years on from the November 2019 protests, the crisis of punishments prevailing in Iran is enabling the Iranian authorities to continue not only mass killings but also the use of the death penalty as a tool to increase. political repression.”
Iran accuses Western nations that host Persian media, including Britain, of fomenting the unrest.
Britain’s domestic spy agency MI5 said on Wednesday that Iran was trying to kidnap or kill UK-based individuals it considers “enemies of the regime”, with at least 10 plots uncovered so far in years.