Unknown gunmen have opened fire in a shopping center in the southern Iranian city of Izeh, killing at least five people and wounding 15 others, local media report.
"At 17:30 on Wednesday afternoon, in a terrorist act, two motorcycle riders shot at the people and security guards with military weapons," Khuzestan province’s deputy police commander Valiullah Hayati told state TV.
"Five people have so far been martyred in Izeh city and a number of security forces were injured. Attempts are underway to arrest the attackers."
The semiofficial Fars news agency said the assailants were armed with AK-47s.
Tasmin news agency reported that the dead included a child, three women and a man, while ISNA said two members of Iran's volunteer Basij militia were among those killed.
Some of the wounded people were said to be in critical condition.
The incident comes as Iran has been gripped by protests since the September death of a 22-year-old woman in the custody of morality police. The protest movement has grown to become the biggest challenge to Iran’s clerical regime since the 2009 protest movement.
The unrest triggered a heavy-handed crackdown by security forces that has killed more than 300 people, including dozens of children. Thousands of people have also been arrested.
Iran state TV said that groups of several dozens protesters gathered in different parts of Izeh late on November 16, chanting anti-government slogans and hurling rocks at police, who fired tear gas to disperse them.
In late October, at least 15 people were reported killed and 40 others injured in a gun attack on a Shia shrine in the southern city of Shiraz, triggering concerns that the authorities could use the incident as pretext to further crack down on protesters. The extremist group Islamic State (ISIS) claimed responsibility for the assault.