Iranian security forces again clashed with protesters across Iran on the 42rd day of nationwide protests as new rallies calling for the downfall of the Islamic Republic spread across the country after Friday prayer.
Videos obtained by IranWire show security forces shooting at protesters gathered around Makki Grand Mosque in the eastern city of Zahedan. One video purported to show a boy who was shot in the head, while activists said up to two people may have been killed in the shooting.
Sources told IranWire that special forces accompanied by dozens of armored vehicles had arrived in the city in the morning while drones were flying over the city.
In the west, security forces opened fire at protesters in the Kurdish cities of Baneh and Mahabad, a day after clashes claimed several lives there.
Videos shared online showed students protesting at universities across the country including Tehran, Kerman in the south and Kermanshah.
Female students chanting in a street of Kermanshah came under fire from security forces, wounding several of them, including two critically, Hengaw reported.
Meanwhile, online monitor NetBlocks said Internet connectivity “has been disrupted regionally in #Zahedan, Sistan and Baluchestan Province, #Iran.”
Zahedan police officials fired
Zahedan, the capital of Sistan and Baluchistan province, was the scene of a violent crackdown on September 30 in which security forces killed 92 people, including 12 children, according to IranWire sources. Four security forces were also killed that day, dubbed Zahedan’s Black Friday.
The incident -- the deadliest in the nationwide unrest triggered by the September 16 death of a 22-year-old Kurdish woman, Mahsa Amini, in the custody of morality police -- followed days of angry rallies in Zahedan over the alleged rape of a 15-year-old girl by a police officer.
In a statement run by state media on October 27, local officials admitted shortcomings by police on September 30, which they said led to the dismissal of Zahedan’s police chief and the head of a police station.
The statement said the “innocent victims and their families” would be compensated and a legal investigation had been opened that may lead to further measures against those who provoked the violence, rioters and any officials suspected of wrongdoing.
In Mahabad, a rights group said security forces killed at least four people in the past two days.
The bloodshed came as protesters were heading toward the governor's office, according to the Hengaw human rights organization. Earlier, the crowd attended the funeral of Ismail Mauludi, a 35-year-old protester killed on the night of October 26.
Iran blames West for unrest
The Iranian regime has again blamed Washington and its allies for the unrest, claiming that some of the protesters were trained by western intelligence agencies.
In a long statement issued on October 28, the elite Revolutionary Guard Corps and Ministry of Information alleged that the United States has paid Iranian protesters through programs aimed at supporting democracy and human rights, and provided them with training in urban warfare.
The statement, which did not provide any evidence for the claims, also accused Israel, Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom and others of involvement in the protests.
Crackdown death toll surpasses 250
Security agencies will continue to identify and arrest the “rioters,” the statement warned, as a Norway-based human rights organization reported that the brutal crackdown by security services has already killed at least 253 people.
As many as 34 children were among those killed, Iran Human Rights said in a statement on October 28, adding that it has “received many reports of authorities attempting to cover up the killing of protesters."
At least 16 people, including four women, were killed by security forces in the past two days alone, particularly in Kurdish regions, according to the group.
The group said protesters have been killed in 21 provinces, with the most reported in Sistan and Baluchistan, Mazandaran, Tehran, Gilan and Kurdistan. The highest number of deaths were recorded on 21, 22 and 30 September.
Students savagely beaten in Bandar Abbas
Security forces stormed a university dormitory in the port city of Bandar Abbas and savagely attacked students who were calling for freedom, an eyewitness told IranWire.
A student who witnessed the Friday morning attack on Bandar Abbas University’s Kosar 5 dormitory said security forces standing outside the building “went completely wild” when students chanted “Women, life, freedom” and slogans against Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.
They entered the building and “beat people with batons and [metal] balls and arrested many,” the student said.
Young men and women, including university students, have been at the forefront of the anti-government protest movement.
Officials try to link Shiraz attack to protests
Iranian leaders tried to link the ongoing wave of anti-government protests to this week’s deadly gun attack on a Shia shrine in the southern city of Shiraz.
In a speech on October 27, President Ibrahim Raisi alleged that the popular demonstrations against the Iranian regime allowed for the shooting at the Shahcheragh Shrine the previous day, without providing evidence linking them.
“The enemy wants the riots to pave the way for terrorist attacks. The enemy is always the enemy,” Raisi said.
“They go to a holy shrine of a son of the prophet, our third-most important shrine, his majesty Shah Cheragh, and open fire at innocent worshipers.”
On October 26, as thousands of protesters across Iran marked the 40th day since Amini’s death, official media reported a "terrorist attack" at the Shahcheragh Shrine. At least 15 people were reported killed and 40 others injured. The extremist group Islamic State (ISIS) claimed responsibility for the assault.
Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called the attack a “plot by the enemies,” according to official media.
“We all have duties to deal a blow to the warmongering enemy and its treacherous and foolish cohorts,” the 83-year-old leader said, adding: “All our people ranging from the security bodies and the judiciary body and activists in the field of media must be united against the wave that disregards and disrespects people’s lives, their security and their sacred things.”
In his first remark since the unrest began, former President Mohammad Khatami warned that “violence cannot be answered with violence.”
Khatami’s name and image have been banned in Iranian media since 2015 over his reformist political views.
“If [the people] see that the conditions of this life are not provided [by the government], they have the right to criticize and even protest,” Khatami said.