Iranian Police open fire into crowd

Iranian police officers opened fire into crowds of protesters on Sunday, killing at least 10 people, witnesses and opposition Web sites said, in a day of chaotic street battles that threatened to deepen the country’s civil unrest.

Mideast IranIranian police officers opened fire into crowds of protesters on Sunday, killing at least 10 people, witnesses and opposition Web sites said, in a day of chaotic street battles that threatened to deepen the country’s civil unrest.

The protests, during the holiday commemorating the death of Imam Hussein, Shiite Islam’s holiest martyr, were the bloodiest and among the largest since the uprisings that followed the disputed presidential election last June, witnesses said. Hundreds of people were reported wounded in cities across the country, and the Tehran police said they had made 300 arrests.

News agencies, citing an opposition Web site, said that Ibrahim Yazdi, a former foreign minister and pro-democracy leader, and Emad Baghi, a prominent human rights activist, were arrested early Monday. Mr. Yazdi was an adviser to the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who led the Iranian revolution in 1979.

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The decision by the authorities to use deadly force on the Ashura holiday infuriated many Iranians, and some said the violence appeared to galvanize more traditional religious people who have not been part of the protests so far. Historically, Iranian rulers have honored Ashura’s prohibition of violence, even during wartime.

In Tehran, thick crowds marched down a central avenue in midmorning, defying official warnings of a harsh crackdown on protests as they chanted “death to Khamenei,” referring to Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has expressed growing intolerance for political dissent in the country.

They refused to retreat even as the police fired tear gas, charged them with batons and fired warning shots. The police then opened fire directly into the crowd, opposition Web sites said, citing witnesses. At least five people were killed in Tehran, four in the northwestern city of Tabriz, and one in Shiraz in the south, the Web sites reported. Photographs of several victims were circulated widely.

YORUM YAZIN

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