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15 killed in open firing by gunmen at Shiite holy site in Iran


According to AP, which quoted a state-run media, gunmen open fired at the Shah Cheragh mosque and killed at least 15 people and wounded dozens in Iran. The official website of the judiciary has informed about the arrest of two gunmen along with attempts of tracking the third culprit.

The state-run IRNA news agency reported the death toll and state TV said 40 people were wounded, reported AP.

The attack, which is possibly done by Sunni extremists, comes at a time when Iran is embroiled in nationwide anti-government demonstrations over the custodial death of Mahsa Amini.

40 days since Mahsa Amini’s death

Thousands of demonstrators hit on streets of the northwestern city to mark the 40 days since the death in custody of the 22-year-old-Mahsa Amini. Her tragic death sparked controversy across the nation over the cruelty of morale police on girls.

In Shiite Islam, deaths are commemorated again 40 days later, typically with an outpouring of grief. To mark the death of Mahsa Amini large number of people came on the street in her hometown Saqez, which is also the birthplace of the nationwide protest. The crowds snaked through the local cemetery and thronged her grave.

In a video which is identified by AP to be of Saqez, protesters were seen crying “Death to the dictator!”. During the protest, women ripped off their headscarves, or hijabs, and waved them above their heads. 

Over 10,000 protesters joined the procession 

According to the State-linked media, around ten thousand protesters joined the procession that headed toward Mahsa Amini’s grave.

The overwhelming participation of the people in the protest led to the firing of tear gas by the security forces to disperse them, informed Hengaw, a Kurdish human rights group. There were also reports of firing pellets at crowds of Saqez. To control the crowd and avert any chaos among public, the internet was also cut off in the region, reported AP quoting ISNA news agency.

In the country’s capital, Tehran, major places including sections of the grand Bazar, were closed to commemorate the death of Mahsa Amini. Crowds clapped and shouted “Freedom! Freedom! Freedom!” through the labyrinthine marketplace.

“This year is a year of blood!” they also chanted. “(Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei) will be toppled!”

Protests also broke out in several places of Tehran including streets and the University of Tehran campus. 

Protests that erupted against the country’s strict dress code for women after the death of Mahsa Amini have also galvanized university students, labor unions, prisoners and ethnic minorities like the Kurds along Iran’s border with Iraq.

Over 200 people have been killed so far

Ever since the protest over the tragic death of Mahsa Amini erupted, security forces have used nearly all cruel options to shut it down. They have fired live ammunition, tear gas and have killed over 200 people, reported AP quoting the right groups.

There is no official data available about the number of people arrested during the protest. Iranian judicial officials have announced that they would perform a trial of over 600 people, out of them 315 are from Tehran only.

Tehran prosecutor Ali Salehi told the state-run IRNA news agency that four protesters were charged with “war against God,” which is punishable by death in Iran.

Iran blames foreign interference for fuelling the protest

Iranian officials have blamed the protests on foreign interference without any proof. Many European officials, companies, institutions, and Farsi channels were awarded with sanctions by Iran for showing support to the protest. These institutions and people who are awarded sanctions won’t be able to enter the country or get the visa for Iran.

The German public broadcaster, Deutsche Welle, was also blacklisted by Iran. The broadcaster has criticised the country’s action on it.

“I expect politicians in Germany and Europe to increase the pressure on the regime,” said DW Director General Peter Limbourg.

In another incident, the reins of the partially dilapidated Metropol Building, a 10-story tower, fell completely on Wednesday, reported AP quoting a state-run media. The building had collapsed earlier this year killing 41 people. In May, the collapse of the tower had become a lightning rod for protests in Abadan city. The disaster brought into light the shoddy construction practices, rampant corruption, and ignorance in Iran. The video of the collapse shows the remaining tower turning into rubble in seconds.

(With agency inputs)

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