At least 50 dead in Iran protest crackdown, says NGO

State-organised marchers earlier called for execution of protesters

Watch: Iranians protest country's hijab laws

Watch: Iranians protest country's hijab laws
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At least 50 people have reportedly been killed in Iran in a crackdown on anti-government protests triggered by the death of Mahsa Amini, Norway-based IHR NGO said on Friday.

State-organised demonstrations took place in several Iranian cities on Friday to counter the anti-government protests, with some marchers calling for the execution of protesters.

The demonstrations followed the strongest warning from the authorities yet, when the army told Iranians it would confront “the enemies” behind the unrest.

“At least 50 people killed so far, and people continue protesting for their fundamental rights and dignity,” the organisation's director M Amiry-Moghaddam wrote on Twitter.

“Restrictions on the internet. International community must stand by Iranian people against one of our time’s most suppressive regimes.”

Demonstrators had earlier condemned the anti-government protesters as “Israel's soldiers”, live state television coverage showed.

They also shouted “Death to America” and “Death to Israel”, slogans commonly used by the country's clerical rulers to try to stir up support for authorities.

“Offenders of the Quran must be executed,” the crowds chanted.

Iranians have staged mass protests over the case of Amini, 22, who died last week after being arrested by the morality police due to her wearing “unsuitable attire”.

Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi said on Friday her death would be “steadfastly” investigated.

The morality police, attached to Iran's law enforcement, are responsible for ensuring the respect of Islamic morals as described by the country's clerical authorities.

Amini's death has reignited anger over issues including restrictions on personal freedoms in Iran, strict dress codes for women and an economy reeling from sanctions.

The Iranian army's message on Friday, seen as a warning to protesters enraged by the death, read: “These desperate actions are part of the evil strategy of the enemy to weaken the Islamic regime.”

The military said it would “confront the enemies' various plots in order to ensure security and peace for the people who are being unjustly assaulted”.

Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alavi also on Friday warned “seditionists” that their “dream of defeating religious values and the great achievements of the revolution will never be realised”, according to the Asriran website.

The anti-government protests were especially strong in Amini's home province of Kurdistan and nearby areas. State television said two caches of weapons, explosives and communications equipment were seized and two people were arrested in north-west Iran, which includes the border with Iraq where armed Kurdish dissident groups are based.

Internet blockage watchdog NetBlocks said mobile internet has been disrupted in Iran for a third time.

“Live metrics show a nation-scale loss of connectivity on leading cellular operator MCI,” it said on Twitter.

Mobile internet had been partially reconnected overnight.

Updated: September 24, 2022, 5:09 AM