The commander of Iran's elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has warned protesters that Saturday would be their last day of rallies, in a sign that security forces could intensify their brutal crackdown on unrest.
"We tell the youth and those who were deceived that today is the last day of the riots, and that they should not go to the streets again," General Hossein Salami said at the funeral for victims of this week’s shooting in Shiraz.
“This ominous sedition will bring no happy ending to you. Do not ruin your future,” he added.
The September 16 death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in the custody of Tehran’s morality police has triggered a wave of nationwide demonstrations against Iran’s clerical establishment.
Security services have unleashed a fierce crackdown on the mainly peaceful protests in which at least 253 people have been killed, including 34 children, according to one human rights organization. Several thousand people have been arrested.
On October 26, as protesters across the country were marking 40 days since Amini’s death, a gunman killed 15 people at a major Shia shrine in the southern city of Shiraz.
The authorities have not disclosed details about the assailant, who died in a hospital from injuries sustained during his arrest, according to official media.
The Islamic State extremist group claimed responsibility for the attack on the Shahcheragh Shrine. Iranian officials have sought to link the assault to the ongoing protests.
The Iranian government has repeatedly alleged that foreign powers have orchestrated the unrest, without providing evidence.