Reuters: Four people died in Tehran on Sunday when pro-reform protesters clashed with security forces, Iranian state TV said, in the worst outbreak of violence since June's contested election sparked political turmoil. By Parisa Hafezi and Fredrik Dahl
TEHRAN, Dec 27 (Reuters) – Four people died in Tehran on Sunday when pro-reform protesters clashed with security forces, Iranian state TV said, in the worst outbreak of violence since June's contested election sparked political turmoil.
Opposition websites said eight people were killed when tens of thousands demonstrated across Iran during a Shi'ite Muslim religious festival.
Among the dead was opposition leader Mirhossein Mousavi's nephew. State TV said "unknown assailants" killed Ali Habibi Mousevi. A Mousavi aide described the death as a "martyrdom".
Opposition website Jaras said police shot and killed four protesters in central Tehran. State TV dismissed foreign media reports that security forces had killed protesters. It said police had fired into the air to disperse demonstrators.
Over 300 protesters were arrested in Tehran, state TV said
"Dozens of police officers have been injured including Tehran's police chief," the TV quoted Ahmadreza Radan, Iran's deputy police chief, as saying. He said one person fell from a bridge, two died in car accidents and one was shot dead, but not by police.
Jaras said that by Sunday evening, Mousavi's supporters in Tehran were marching towards the hospital where his nephew's body was being kept.
Shots were heard in northern Tehran after nightfall.
Jaras said unrest spread to other parts of Iran, including the holy city of Qom. Clashes erupted in the cities of Shiraz, Isfahan, Najafabad, Mashhad and Babol, it said, in reports that could not be independently verified.
It is the first time people have died in street protests since the immediate aftermath of the June presidential election in which the opposition says more than 70 people were killed.
The authorities have estimated the post-vote death toll at about half that number, including pro-government militiamen.
"We will kill those who killed our brothers," Jaras quoted demonstrators as chanting.
The authorities had warned the opposition against using the two-day Shi'ite Muslim Tasoua and Ashura festival on Dec. 26-27 to revive protests against the clerical establishment.
"The Iranian nation has shown tolerance so far but they should know that the … system's patience has a limit," Mojtaba Zolnour, a representative of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in the Revolutionary Guards, said, the semi-official Fars News Agency reported.