Iranian security forces have shot dead at least three people in the western province of Kurdistan during the latest deadly protests over the death of Mahsa Amini, a human rights group said.
The country’s spiritual leadership under Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is facing its greatest challenge since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, in two months of violent demonstrations following Amini’s death in custody on September 16.
Authorities have responded with a crackdown that has killed at least 342 people, half a dozen have already been sentenced to death and more than 15,000 arrested, according to the Olso-based group Iran Human Rights (IHR).
On Saturday, Hengaw, a Norway-based human rights organization that monitors abuses in Kurdish areas, told AFP that “government repressive forces opened fire on protesters in the town of Divandarreh, killing at least three civilians”.
Protesters have been killed in 22 of Iran’s 31 provinces, IHR said Wednesday, including 123 in Sistan-Baluchistan and 32 in Amini’s home province of Kurdistan.
Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian of Kurdish descent, died three days after her arrest in Tehran by the notorious vice squad for an alleged violation of the Islamic Republic’s mandatory headscarf law.
Protests raged overnight in the Kurdistan city of Bukan, where Revolutionary Guards opened fire on family members mourning a protester who had been killed and took his body from the hospital before burying it in an undisclosed location said Hengaw.
Activists accuse Iran’s security forces of conducting secret funerals of protesters they killed in order to prevent further violence from erupting at their funerals.
“Last night, after (IRGC) Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps troops attacked the Shahid Gholi Pur Hospital in Bukan, they seized the body of Shahryar Mohammadi and buried him secretly,” Hengaw said, adding that the troops “ opened fire on his family and wounded at least five of them.”
Elsewhere, hundreds of mourners marched along a road near Mahabad in West Azerbaijan province on Saturday for the funeral of Kamal Ahmadpour, a young man shot dead by security forces, in a video published by the 1500tasvir monitor.
“The armed forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran have significantly increased the use of deadly weapons in attacks against demonstrators over the past five days,” Hengaw told AFP.
The rights group said security forces have killed at least 25 people in Kurdistan since Tuesday, when protesters crowded the streets on the anniversary of a deadly 2019 crackdown known as “Bloody Aban” – or Bloody November.
“Twenty-three people were killed by direct fire, one by torture and one by stabbing,” Hengaw said.
The state-run Iranian newspaper reported on Saturday that 14 security personnel had been killed during the three days of protests called to mark the Nov. 15 anniversary.
Hundreds were killed in the 2019 crackdown on street violence that erupted following a rise in fuel prices.
Iran’s foreign ministry lashed out at the “deliberate silence of foreign promoters of chaos and violence in Iran in the face of … terrorist operations in several Iranian cities.”
“It is the duty of the international community and international assemblies to condemn the recent acts of terrorism in Iran and not to provide a safe haven for extremists,” it added.
Iran accuses Western countries that host Persian-language media — including Britain — of fomenting the unrest.
Britain’s internal intelligence agency MI5 said on Wednesday that Iran sought to kidnap or kill UK-based individuals it considers “enemies of the regime”, uncovering at least 10 plots this year.
The Times reported on Saturday that British police had placed armed response vehicles outside London’s Persian-language Iran International television station following threats by Iran against its journalists.
Authorities said two separate attacks in the cities of Izeh and Isfahan on Wednesday killed 10 people, including a woman, two children and a security officer.
Two members of the pro-government Basij paramilitary force were stabbed to death in the northeastern city of Mashhad as they attempted to intervene against “rioters,” state news agency Irna reported.