Iran General NewsHundreds arrested in violent Iran clashes

Hundreds arrested in violent Iran clashes


ImageAFP: At least 457 people were arrested in violent clashes in Tehran, state radio said, in which 10 people were also killed as Iran battled to curb its worst crisis since the Islamic revolution.

By Jay Deshmukh

ImageTEHRAN (AFP) — At least 457 people were arrested in violent clashes in Tehran, state radio said, in which 10 people were also killed as Iran battled to curb its worst crisis since the Islamic revolution.

Iranian state radio quoting the police said the arrests were made when demonstrators and security forces clashed on Saturday around the capital's Azadi square.

The clashes resulted in the deaths of 10 people also, state television said on Sunday.

The opposition led by defeated presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi has remained defiant despite a crackdown by authorities and on Sunday the former premier told his supporters to remain steadfast.

In clear backing for continued demonstrations, he said: "In your protests keep on refraining from violence… I as one of the mourners (of the Saturday killings) invite my dear people to self-restraint. The nation belongs to you."

The post-election violence has shaken the Islamic republic and grabbed world wide attention.

Independent British think tank Chatham House said the election results show "irregularities" in the turnout and "highly implausible" swings to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, according to an analysis published on Sunday.

There would have to have been a radical shift in rural voting patterns and a "highly unlikely" change in heart among former reformist voters for Ahmadinejad to win as he did, the study concluded.

Ahmadinejad was declared winner with a thumping majority of 63 percent of votes.

Iranian state television blamed "terrorists" with firearms and explosives for Saturday's casualties in which 100 people were also wounded, bringing the overall toll reported by state media in a week of violence to at least 17.

Struggling to contain the massive street protests unleashed since the disputed June 12 election, Iranian leaders lashed out at Western nations, foreign media and the exiled opposition.

World leaders have voiced mounting alarm over the unrest, which has jolted the pillars of the Islamic regime and raised concerns over the future of the oil-rich Shiite Muslim powerhouse.

On Sunday, witnesses said police and members of the Islamic volunteer Basij militia were patrolling flashpoint areas of Tehran but there did not appear to be any opposition demonstrations.

The foreign media has been barred from covering the demonstrations as part of tight new restrictions on their work.

Ahmadinejad bluntly told the United States and Britain to stop interfering after Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki accused London of plotting for the past two years to sabotage the election.

"By making hasty comments, you will not have a place in the circle of the Iranian nation's friends. Therefore, I recommend you to correct your interfering positions," Ahmadinejad said in a statement.

A Canadian journalist working in Iran for Newsweek magazine was detained without charge by Iranian authorities, the magazine said, adding that Maziar Bahari had not been heard from since.

The BBC said its correspondent in Tehran had been ordered to leave within 24 hours while the authorities warned the British media of further action if the "interference" continues.

Dubai-based television channel Al-Arabiya said its Tehran bureau had been ordered to remain closed indefinitely for "unfair reporting" of the election.

British Foreign Secretary David Miliband rejected the charges that protesters were being "manipulated or motivated" by foreign countries and denounced what he said were Iran's effort to turn the election dispute into a "battle" with the outside world.

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner condemned what he called "this brutal repression" while President Nicolas Sarkozy told Qatar's QNA news agency that the attitude of the Iranian authorities was "inexcusable".

In his latest comments on Saturday, US President Barack Obama, who has appealed for dialogue with Tehran after three decades of severed ties, urged Iran to stop "all violent and unjust actions".

US Senator Dianne Feinstein, who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee appreciated Obama's rather hands-off approach saying, "it is very crucial, as I see it, that we not have our fingerprints on this. That this really be truly inspired by the Iranian people."

"We don't know where this goes. And I sure wouldn't want to be responsible for thousands of people being killed, which is a distinct possibility."

Mousavi, leading the massive wave of public opposition to an election he has called a "shameful fraud", on Saturday accused the country's rulers of "cheating" and warned of a dangerous path ahead.

He unleashed his broadside against Iran's all-powerful leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei after police firing tear gas and water cannon clashed with thousands of protesters who defied an ultimatum from the cleric for an end to their street rallies.

Mousavi lashed out at Khamenei in an unprecedented challenge to the man who has ruled over Iran for 20 years.

Khameini on Friday ruled out any election fraud and warned that opposition leaders would be responsible for "blood, violence and chaos" if there was no end to protests.

But the moderate Mousavi, 67, reiterated his demand for a new election, and told his supporters on Sunday: "The revolution is your legacy. To protest against lies and fraud is your right. Be hopeful that you will get your right and do not allow others who want to provoke your anger… to prevail."

Iran's electoral watchdog, the 12-member Guardians Council, said on Saturday it was ready to recount up to 10 percent of the ballot boxes from the election.

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