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19 Killed in Iran Attack               10/01 08:16

   

   DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) -- An attack by armed separatists on a 
police station in a southeastern city killed 19 people, including four members 
of Iran's elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard, Iran's state-run IRNA news agency 
reported Saturday.

   The assailants in Friday's attack hid among worshippers near a mosque in the 
city of Zahedan and attacked the nearby police station, according to the report.

   IRNA quoted Hossein Modaresi, the provincial governor, as saying 19 people 
were killed. The outlet said 32 Guard members, including volunteer Basiji 
forces, were also wounded in the clashes.

   It was not immediately clear if the attack was related to nationwide 
antigovernment protests gripping Iran after the death in police custody of a 
young Iranian woman.

   Sistan and Baluchestan province borders Afghanistan and Pakistan and has 
seen previous attacks on security forces by ethnic Baluchi separatists, 
although Saturday's Tasnim report did not identify a separatist group allegedly 
involved in the attack.

   IRNA on Saturday identified the dead as Hamidreza Hashemi, a Revolutionary 
Guard colonel; Mohammad Amin Azarshokr, a Guard member; Mohamad Amin Arefi, a 
Basiji, or volunteer force with the IRG; and Saeed Borhan Rigi, also a Basiji.

   Tasnim and other state-linked Iranian news outlets reported Friday that the 
head of the Guard's intelligence department, Seyyed Ali Mousavi, was shot 
during the attack and later died.

   It is not unusual for IRG members to be present at police bases around the 
country.

   Thousands of Iranians have taken to the streets over the last two weeks to 
protest the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman who had been detained by 
the morality police in the capital of Tehran for allegedly wearing her 
mandatory Islamic headscarf too loosely.

   The protesters have vented their anger over the treatment of women and wider 
repression in the Islamic Republic. The nationwide demonstrations rapidly 
escalated into calls for the overthrow of the clerical establishment that has 
ruled Iran since its 1979 Islamic revolution.

   The protests have drawn supporters from various ethnic groups, including 
Kurdish opposition movements in the northwest that operate along the border 
with neighboring Iraq. Amini was an Iranian Kurd and the protests first erupted 
in Kurdish areas.

   Iranian state TV has reported that at least 41 protesters and police have 
been killed since the demonstrations began Sept. 17. An Associated Press count 
of official statements by authorities tallied at least 14 dead, with more than 
1,500 demonstrators arrested.

   Also on Friday, Iran said it had arrested nine foreigners linked to the 
protests, which authorities have blamed on hostile foreign entities, without 
providing evidence.

   It has been difficult to gauge the extent of the protests, particularly 
outside of Tehran. Iranian media have only sporadically covered the 
demonstrations.

   Witnesses said scattered protests involving dozens of demonstrators took 
place Saturday around a university in downtown Tehran. Riot police dispersed 
the protesters, who chanted "death to dictator." Some witnesses said police 
fired teargas.

   Iranian opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi, meanwhile, reminded Iran's 
armed forces of their duty to people's lives and rights, the foreign-based 
opposition Telegram channel Kaleme reported.

   Mousavi's Green Movement challenged Iran's disputed 2009 presidential 
election in unrest at a level unseen since its 1979 Islamic Revolution before 
being crushed by authorities.

   "Obviously your capability that was awarded to you is for defending people, 
not suppression people, defending oppressed, not serving powerful people and 
oppressors," he said.

 
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