Five killed as gunmen open fire in Iranian bazaar

Two armed attacks on day that Iran issues more death sentences against protesters

Iranian protesters block traffic in the northern city of Rasht. AFP
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Gunmen opened fire in a bazaar in the south-western Iranian city of Izeh on Wednesday, killing at least five people, including a young girl, and wounding civilians and members of the security forces, state television reported.

In a separate attack, gunmen shot dead two members of Iran’s paramilitary Basij in the central city of Isfahan, according to the state-run Irna news agency.

The gunmen were reported to be riding motorcycles in both attacks.

Meanwhile, Iranian authorities issued more death sentences as protests over Mahsa Amini's death in custody entered a third month on Wednesday, with clashes reportedly claiming at least seven lives in two days.

It was not immediately clear what motivated the armed attacks or if they were linked to the protests.

Another 10 people, including security forces members, were wounded in the shooting in Izeh, according to state TV.

Valiollah Hayati, deputy governor of the Khuzestan province, told the network that a young girl and a woman were among those killed.

A report said dozens of protesters had gathered in different parts of Izeh late on Wednesday, chanting anti-government slogans and hurling rocks at police, who fired tear gas to disperse them. State-linked media also reported that someone set fire to a Shiite religious seminary.

Violence has erupted around some of the protests as security forces have clamped down on dissent. Some recent attacks have also blamed on separatists and religious extremists, including a shooting at a major Shiite shrine last month that killed over a dozen people and was claimed by ISIS.

The demonstrations began after the death of Mahsa Amini, 22, in morality police custody on September 16. They have escalated into calls for the overthrow of Iran’s ruling clerics and an end to the theocracy established after the 1979 revolution.

The violence in Izeh took place on the second day of a three-day general strike called by the protesters. The strike commemorates an earlier round of nationwide protests in 2019 in which hundreds of demonstrators were killed.

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At least 362 people have been killed and 16,033 arrested in the latest wave of protests, according to Human Rights Activists in Iran, a group monitoring the unrest. Rights groups accuse security forces of firing live ammunition and bird shot at demonstrators, and of beating them with batons.

Iran’s Revolutionary Court, which tries security cases, issued a preliminary verdict sentencing three protesters to death in the capital, Tehran, earlier on Wednesday, state media reported. It brings the number of death sentences to four since the latest protests began. None have been carried out.

Mizan, a news website linked to Iran’s judiciary, said one person was convicted of ramming a vehicle into police, killing one and wounding others. It said another attacked security forces with a knife and set fire to a government building. The third was found guilty of blocking a street and leading a violent demonstration. Mizan said the verdicts can be appealed.

AP contributed to this report

Updated: June 13, 2023, 8:29 AM