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Iranian general acknowledges over 300 dead in unrest

Iranians mourn in front of the coffins of people killed in a shooting attack, during their funeral in the city of Izeh in Iran's Khuzestan province, on November 18, 2022. (ALIREZA MOHAMMADI/ isna/ AFP)
Iranians mourn in front of the coffins of people killed in a shooting attack, during their funeral in the city of Izeh in Iran's Khuzestan province, on November 18, 2022. (ALIREZA MOHAMMADI/ isna/ AFP)

An Iranian general acknowledges that more than 300 people have been killed in the unrest surrounding nationwide protests, giving the first official word on casualties in two months.

That estimate is considerably lower than the toll reported by Human Rights Activists in Iran, a US-based group that has been closely tracking the protests since they erupted after the September 16 death of a young woman being held by the country’s morality police.

The activist group says 451 protesters and 60 security forces have been killed since the start of the unrest and that more than 18,000 people have been detained.

The protests were sparked by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who was detained for allegedly violating the Islamic Republic’s strict dress code. They quickly escalated into calls for the overthrow of Iran’s theocracy and pose one of the most serious challenges to the ruling clerics since the 1979 revolution that brought them to power.

Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, the commander of the aerospace division of the paramilitary Revolutionary Guard, was quoted by a website close to the Guard as saying that more than 300 people have been killed, including “martyrs,” an apparent reference to security forces. He also suggested that many of those killed were ordinary Iranians not involved in the protests.

He did not provide an exact figure or say where his estimate came from.

Authorities have heavily restricted media coverage of the protests. State-linked media have not reported an overall toll and have largely focused on attacks on security forces, which officials blame on shadowy militant and separatist groups.

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