Four protesters shot dead in Iran



Four protesters were shot dead by security forces in central Tehran today as thousands of opposition supporters staged anti-government protests during a Shiite mourning event, a website said. "Three of our compatriots were martyred and two were injured in clashes. The (website) reporter who was on the scene said these three were directly shot at by military forces," Rahesabz.net said. Rahesabz said a fourth protester was also killed near Vali Asr intersection on Enghelab. "The people are carrying the body of this martyr and are shouting slogans," it said citing eyewitnesses. It said the clashes took place near College bridge in the middle of the main Enghelab street. Earlier today, Iranian police fired tear gas and beat protesters in clashes with thousands of opposition supporters chanting anti-government slogans during a Shiite mourning event, witnesses said. Security forces moved in as crowds of protesters gathered in several spots along the main Enghelab street, witnesses said, adding that police fired tear gas to break up the gatherings. It is the second straight day that opposition supporters have used the solemn Ashura festival, which culminates on Sunday, to demonstrate against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose June re-election they charge was massively rigged.

"Security forces beat up protesters taking refuge in houses near Imam Hossein square" on the eastern end of Enghelab street, which runs across the city, a witness said. Another witness said security force members on motorbikes chased protesters off Enghelab square in the west "but people regrouped in a nearby street and more are coming to join them." Protesters appeared to be a mix of young and middle-aged people with many women among them.

Many were chanting "Death to the dictator" and "It is the bloody month and the basiji will fall," referring to the Islamist militia which plays a key role in suppressing protests. They also chanted "Ya Hossein, Mir Hossein" in support of opposition leader and defeated presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi. * AFP

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