NewsSpecial WireIran oil city uprising leaves "hundreds" dead or wounded

Iran oil city uprising leaves “hundreds” dead or wounded

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Iran Focus: Tehran, Apr. 20 – Iran’s southern Khuzestan province was the scene of further chaos today as another round of fierce fighting erupted between people and government forces, following severe clashes several days ago which left dozens dead and hundreds wounded or arrested. The latest clashes broke out this morning between Iran’s State Security Forces (SSF) and local residents in several districts of the city of Ahwaz, including Kut Abdullah, Kian and Khashayar. Iran Focus

Tehran, Apr. 20 – Iran’s southern Khuzestan province was the scene of further chaos today as another round of fierce fighting erupted between people and government forces, following severe clashes several days ago which left dozens dead and hundreds wounded or arrested.

The latest clashes broke out this morning between Iran’s State Security Forces (SSF) and local residents in several districts of the city of Ahwaz, including Kut Abdullah, Kian and Khashayar.

Ahwaz, close to the Iraqi border, is a major hub of Iranian ethnic minority groups, and its largely Arab population has faced brutal repression under clerical rule.

On Friday anti-government protests erupted in Ahwaz once Iran’s State Security Forces were dispatched to quell some 3,000 angry residents who were complaining of government plans to redefine the ethnic make-up of the province.

Demonstrators ransacked a number of government buildings, police stations, and set fire to the Agriculture Bank.

At least 300 hundred people are believed to be injured after the SSF shot at demonstrators.

The latest round of fighting took place on the sixth consecutive day despite the presence of various security forces, Revolutionary Guards, and officials of the Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS), who have been arresting anyone seeking to start a demonstration as part of their efforts to contain the already very tense atmosphere in the city.

Ahwaz was placed under a de facto martial law after a number of SSF agents were killed by angry demonstrators, and residents have reported an extremely volatile situation in the majority of the districts.

MOIS agents have also started to re-arrest former political prisoners in Ahwaz and other cities in the province. Many arbitrary arrests have been carried out, and all five prisons in the city are full to the extent that a large number of detainees are under interrogation in safe-houses belonging to the security agencies.

Balal Mosque in Sepidar neighbourhood and similar places in Ahwaz are being used as temporary detention centres by MOIS agents and the Revolutionary Guards.

Schools and shops in Ahwaz remain closed and young people are countering security forces’ aggression by attacking government buildings, as well as centres and vehicles belonging to the security forces.

When Defence Minister Ali Shamkhani, known in the area as the “Butcher of Ahwaz” for his role in the bloody suppression of anti-government disturbances in the city in 1979, tried to enter an Ahwaz neighbourhood called Dayereh with his large contingent of bodyguards on Tuesday afternoon, youths attacked them with a barrage of stones, forcing Shamkhani and his entourage to flee.

Unrest has spilt to other cities of the province and intense clashes between local residents and government forces have also broken out in the cities of Mahshahr, Abadan, Khorramshahr and Shoushtar.

An Iranian judiciary official was quoted as saying today that more than 140 people out of 344 arrested in southwest Iran remain in jail following the ethnic unrest.

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