An Iranian protester killed one police officer and wounded three others, the Iranian government said Monday, in the first reported death among the security forces since a wave of protests broke out last week.
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Police said a man in the central city of Najafabad opened fire on officers with a hunting rifle as people took to the streets during what has become the largest protests in Iran since 2009.
The killing did not appear to be part of a coordinated attack and it was not immediately clear what happened to the gunman.
"A rioter took advantage of the situation in the city of Najaf Abad and fired shots at police forces with a hunting rifle. As a result, three were wounded, and one was martyred,” Saeed Montazer al-Mahdi, the police spokesman, told Iranian state television. It did not say when the incident took place
News of the officer’s death came as thousands of Iranians turned out for a fifth night of demonstrations, even as security forces stepped up the violence to try to suppress them.
Protesters strip a Basij militiaman of his trousers
#Update102- An hour ago protesters were attacked by Basij(IRGC) Forces in #Kermanshah but people resisted, took one hostage, took his trousers off and let him go.
This is going to be a tactic against IRGC Forces all over the country when protesters get attacked.#IranProtests pic.twitter.com/VmbtDcm5l0
— Raman Ghavami (@Raman_Ghavami) December 31, 2017
At least 10 people were killed across the country on Sunday night, according to state television, but opposition activists said the real death toll was likely to be higher.
Six people were reportedly killed after security forces opened fire in the western town of Tuyserkan and another two were shot dead in the south-western town of Izeh.
Two people, one a teenage boy, died after being run over by a fire engine stolen by protesters in the town of Dorud, state media said. Two other people were shot dead on Saturday in the town, which has been a flashpoint for protests.
Iran’s government claimed that armed demonstrators had tried to seize control of police stations and military bases. There was no independent confirmation of the claim but videos on social media purported to show a group of men ransacking a Revolutionary Guard office and pulling down a picture of Ayatollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic.
In the largely Kurdish city of Kermanshah, a crowd overpowered a pro-government Basij militiaman and stripped him of his trousers, sending him stumbling humiliated into the cold night.
The protests began on Thursday as a narrow demonstration over rising food prices, but quickly spiralled into the gravest challenge to Iran’s theocratic government since 2009, when millions of people took to the streets to protest against disputed election results.
While Mr Rouhani’s hardliner opponents initially appeared encouraged by the discontent with his economic policies, they were caught off guard as the unrest took aim at the core pillars of the Islamic Republic, including Ayatollah Khamenei, the supreme leader.
Donald Trump, the US president, on Monday said, “Iran is failing at every level” and it was “time for change”.
Iran is failing at every level despite the terrible deal made with them by the Obama Administration. The great Iranian people have been repressed for many years. They are hungry for food & for freedom. Along with human rights, the wealth of Iran is being looted. TIME FOR CHANGE!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) 1 January 2018
Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, said he was “watching the events in Iran closely.”
“We believe that there should be meaningful debate about the legitimate and important issues the protesters are raising and we look to the Iranian authorities to permit this.
“We also believe that, particularly as we enter the 70th anniversary year of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, people should be able to have freedom of expression and to demonstrate peacefully within the law.
“We regret the loss of life that has occurred in the protests in Iran, and call on all concerned to refrain from violence and for international obligations on human rights to be observed,” the Foreign Minister said in a statement.
Opposition activists criticised European governments and especially Federica Mogherini, the EU foreign policy chief, for not speaking out against Iran’s crackdown on dissent.
On Sunday night a spokesman for Ms Mogherini responded to the criticism. "We have been following the demonstrations by Iranian citizens during the last days. We have been in touch with the Iranian authorities and we expect that the right to peaceful demonstration and freedom of expression will be guaranteed, following President Rouhani’s public statements. We will continue to monitor developments."