At least 19 killed, including Revolutionary Guards chief, during riots in Zahedan

At least 19 people have been killed and about twenty injured, this past Friday, including a Revolutionary Guard commander, during a police crackdown on a wave of protests that has broken out in recent hours in Iran’s Sunni-majority city of Zahedan, located in the east of the country.

The government, through the official Iranian news agency IRNA, has defended the police action by claiming that the demonstrators tried to storm three police stations in the city. The deaths were confirmed by the provincial Governor, Modares Jayabani, in a press conference reported by the semi-official Iranian news agency Tasnim, who identified the rioters as “terrorists” and “separatists”.

The protests have cost the life of the head of Intelligence of the Revolutionary Guard in the province of Sistan and Baluchistan, of which Zahedan is the capital, identified as Ali Mousavi, as Tasnim, also linked to the ideological wing of the Iranian Army, has been able to confirm.

Mousavi would have died during the assault carried out by “a group of anti-regime elements” near the Makki mosque, where they began to open indiscriminate fire, according to the version of the authorities.

Armed individuals have reportedly attacked up to three police stations in Zahedan and trash containers have been burned, among other incidents such as the burning of a truck, an attack on a health center. “Attempts to foment chaos in the city have failed and the security forces have the situation under control”, according to official media.

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Already this Saturday, security forces have killed the person responsible for Mousavi’s death, a “sniper” who was killed in an operation by the Salman unit of the Revolutionary Guard, the elite military and ideological corps of the Islamic Republic, according to “informed sources” quoted by the Iranian news agency Tasnim, closely linked to the Revolutionary Guard itself.

Tasnim has reported that Mousavi died after being shot in the chest. He was taken to a hospital, but died due to the severity of his wounds.

Maulvi Abdul Hamid, the religious leader of the Baloch (mostly Sunni) population living in the province and Iran’s top Sunni cleric, has called on law enforcement to do everything possible to maintain calm in the locality.

Protests in the country have been unleashed since the death in police custody of young Mahsa Amini and until the incidents in Zahedan had left between 52 and 83 dead, according to sources from Amnesty International and the Iranian NGO Iran Human Rights.

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In the last few hours, the Iranian Intelligence Ministry has also issued a statement reporting the arrest of at least nine foreign nationals from Germany, Poland, Italy, France, the Netherlands and Sweden for their alleged involvement in riots for which it has blamed foreign powers.

Tehran has also announced the arrest of 49 members of the opposition People’s Mujahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI), outlawed by Tehran, for inciting terrorism and hooliganism through the fabrication of fake news.

It has also specified that 77 agents of Kurdish dissident groups (Komala, KDPI, PAK and PJAK), including one of their senior commanders “trained in US bases”, have been arrested for conspiring “against the oppressed people of Kurdistan on both sides of the country’s western borders”.

These arrests are joined by three others of members of the Bahai community, considered a heresy by Iranian Muslim authorities, as well as 92 sympathizers of the former Pahlavi monarchy and five takfiri “terrorists” carrying 36 kilograms of explosives.

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