Report: 3 protesters shot dead by Revolutionary Guards as Iran rallies intensify
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Riot police reported clubbing and tear-gassing demonstrators

Report: 3 protesters shot dead by Revolutionary Guards as Iran rallies intensify

Footage from opposition websites shows thousands participating in demonstrations, with some tearing down posters of supreme leader and calling for his death

An Iranian woman raises her fist amid the smoke of tear gas at the University of Tehran during a protest driven by anger over economic problems, in the capital Tehran on December 30, 2017.(AFP PHOTO / STR)
An Iranian woman raises her fist amid the smoke of tear gas at the University of Tehran during a protest driven by anger over economic problems, in the capital Tehran on December 30, 2017.(AFP PHOTO / STR)

Three Iranian protesters were shot dead by the Revolutionary Guards at a Saturday night demonstration in central Iran, the Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya network reported, citing local reports.

There was no immediate confirmation of the incident, which reportedly took place in Doroud, in the Lorestan province.

Footage from Iranian opposition websites showed thousands participating in the nationwide anti-regime demonstrations, with some calling for the death of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Iranian social media accounts posted videos of demonstrators tearing down regime billboards featuring Khamenei’s photo.

A swirl of online rumors, combined with travel restrictions and a near-total media blackout from official agencies, made it difficult to verify footage.

The semi-official Fars news agency said 70 students protested at Tehran University, throwing rocks at police. They reportedly chanted “Death to the dictator,” in reference to Khamenei.

Reuters reported that footage on social media showed riot police clubbing and arresting the demonstrators, and said protesters were also arrested elsewhere in Tehran.

It also reported anti-Khamenei marches in the western towns of Dorud and Shahr-e Kord, and quoted reports that Iranian forces used tear gas against protesters.

Media coverage inside Iran focused almost exclusively on the pro-regime rallies held on Saturday to mark the defeat of the last major protest movement in 2009, which hardliners call “the sedition.”

Iranian state-controlled media characterized the worst anti-regime protests in eight years, which began on Thursday, as masterminded by American, British, and Israeli spies seeking “to stir unrest” in the Islamic republic.

The regime warned protesters against holding fresh demonstrations, and organized rallies by hardline supporters, after protests spread Thursday and Friday into several cities including Tehran. Fifty-two people were arrested in Iran’s second most populous city of Mashhad on Thursday. State news channel IRINN said it had been banned from covering the protests.

State television showed large crowds of black-clad supporters gathering in the capital Tehran, second city Mashhad and elsewhere to mark the anniversary of the end of “the sedition” — the last major unrest that followed disputed elections in 2009.

Initially aimed against high prices, the anti-government protests quickly turned against the Islamic regime as a whole.

Iranian students run for cover from tear gas at the University of Tehran during a demonstration on December 30, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / STR)

State TV aired live Saturday’s pro-government “9 Dey Epic” demonstrations, named for the date on the Iranian calendar the 2009 protests took place. The footage showed people waving flags and carrying banners bearing the image of Khamenei.

Iranian students scuffle with police at the University of Tehran during a demonstration on December 30, 2017.(AFP PHOTO / STR)

In Tehran, some 4,000 people gathered at the Musalla prayer ground in central Tehran. They called for criminal trials for Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mahdi Karroubi, leaders in the Green Movement who have been under house arrest since 2011.

Iranian pro-regime protesters chant slogans at a rally in Tehran, Iran, Saturday, Dec. 30, 2017. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, whose administration struck the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, campaigned on freeing the men, though they remain held.

Iran’s economy has improved since the nuclear deal, which saw Iran limit its enrichment of uranium in exchange for the end of some of the international sanctions that crippled its economy. Tehran now sells its oil on the global market and has signed deals for tens of billions of dollars of Western aircraft.

Iranian students protest at the University of Tehran on December 30, 2017.
Students protested in a third day of demonstrations, videos on social media showed, but were outnumbered by counter-demonstrators. (AFP PHOTO / STR)

That improvement has reached the average Iranian, however. Unemployment remains high. Official inflation has crept up to 10 percent again. A recent increase in egg and poultry price by as much as 40 percent, which a government spokesman has blamed on a cull over avian flu fears, appears to have been the spark for the protests.

Videos on social media showed hundreds marching through the holy city of Qom on Friday evening, with people chanting “Death to the dictator” and “Free political prisoners.”

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