Five killed in Iran during protests over death in custody: rights group
Five people were killed in Iran's Kurdish region on Monday when security forces opened fire during protests over the death of a woman in police custody, a Kurdish rights group said, on a third day of turmoil over an incident that has ignited nationwide anger.
Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old from Iran's Kurdistan province, fell into a coma and died following her arrest in Tehran last week by the morality police, sparking demonstrations in numerous areas including the capital.
Two of the people were killed as security forces opened fire on protesters in the Kurdish city of Saqez, Amini's hometown, the Hengaw Human Rights Organization said on Twitter.
It said two more were killed in the town of Divandarreh "by direct fire" from security forces, and a fifth was killed in Dehgolan, also in the Kurdish region.
Divandare;— Hengaw Organization for Human Rights (@Hengaw_English) September 19, 2022
The funeral ceremony of Mohsen Mohammadi, a protester from Divandareh, who was killed on Monday, September 19, 2022, by direct fire from government forces.#Kurdistan_strike#Mahsa_Amini pic.twitter.com/RWvDlOlnPX
Reuters could not independently verify the reports.
There was no official confirmation of the deaths. The official news agency IRNA said there were "limited" protests in a number of cities in seven provinces that were dispersed by police.
State TV said a number of protesters had been arrested but rejected "some claims of deaths on social media" by showing two injured youths who denied reports they had been killed.
In the nationwide condemnations of Amini's death, the Persian hashtag #MahsaAmini reached nearly 2 million Twitter mentions.
This is Iran today. A woman proudly burning the most visible symbol of religious dictatorship; compulsory hijab.— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) September 19, 2022
Hijab police killed #MahsaAmini but now there are millions of Mahsa in Iran who are shouting NO to Forced hijab NO to gender apartheid regime.#مهسا_امینی pic.twitter.com/9tzd9IRwgB
The police have said Amini fell ill as she waited with other women being held by the morality police, who enforce strict rules in the Islamic republic requiring women to cover their hair and wear loose fitting clothes in public.
But her father has repeatedly said his daughter had no health problems, adding that she had suffered bruises to her legs. He held the police responsible for her death.
The protests have been most intense in the Kurdish region, where the authorities have previously put down unrest by the Kurdish minority numbering 8 million to 10 million.
Hengaw said 75 people were injured on Monday.
A video posted on Twitter earlier by Hengaw showed protesters throwing rocks while a man could be heard saying "there is a war in Divandarreh" and accusing the police of attacking.
Reuters could not verify the authenticity of the video.
Internet blockage observatory NetBlocks reported "near-total disruption to internet connectivity in Sanandaj" - the provincial capital of the Kurdish region - on Monday, linking it to the protests, according to its Twitter account.
While Hengaw reported deadly force by security forces in the Kurdish region, there were no immediate reports of fatalities in protests in other parts of Iran.
Videos on social media showed demonstrations in Tehran and spreading to cities such as Rasht, Mashhad and Isfahan.
A video shared by the 1500tasvir Twitter account, which publishes footage sent by its 70,000 followers, showed police cars with their windows smashed in Tehran, as a nearby security forces' vehicle fired water canon towards protesters.
"People throwing rocks have advanced against the police. Death to the dictator!" a woman can be heard saying.
It also shared footage showing what it said was a protest at a Tehran university against the paramilitary Basij, a militia.
Reuters could not independently verify the videos.
It marks some of Iran's worst unrest since street clashes that began in late 2021 over water shortages.