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Tehran police chief sacked over student raid

TEHRAN, Aug 25 (Reuters) - Iran has sacked Tehran's police chief, blamed for a police attack on student dormitories that provoked some of the worst unrest since the 1979 Islamic revolution.

State television said Brigadier-General Mohsen Ansari was introduced at a ceremony on Wednesday as the new head of the capital's police, replacing Brigadier-General Farhad Nazari.

Newspapers said Nazari had been sacked after an investigation found him responsible for the police attack on the Tehran University student dormitory in July.

An investigative committee of Iran's Supreme National Security Council (SNSC), the country's top security body, said in the report earlier this month that Nazari and several other security officials would be prosecuted over the attack.

Riot police and hardline vigilantes attacked the dormitory complex after a peaceful pro-democracy student rally against the banning of a key moderate newspaper, injuring more than 200 students.

At least one person died in the attack, and others remain unaccounted for.

The attack led to a series of protests by angry students which culminated in major street riots in Tehran and scattered violence in other cities, the country's worst since the aftermath of the revolution.

Security forces and Basij paramilitary militia restored order after the riots, in which state banks, public buildings and vehicles were set on fire.

The SNSC report said police commanders at the scene failed to follow orders from Interior Minister Abdolvahed Mousavi-Lari, an ally of moderate President Mohammad Khatami, who had sought a peaceful resolution to a stand-off between police and demonstrators.

Mousavi-Lari nominally heads the police who ultimately answer to supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Khamenei is widely seen to be closer to conservatives and hardliners opposed to Khatami's programme of political and social reforms.

The report said some of the hardline vigilantes would also have to stand trial for their role in the dormitory attack.

Hardline officials have blamed the unrest on dissidents backed by foreign states. Moderates have also condemned the violence but insisted that those responsible for the attack on the dormitory should be prosecuted.

The television said Ansari would assume the new post while keeping his position as deputy national police chief.

Student protesters have been demanding the sacking of the national police chief Brigadier-General Hedayat Lotfian.


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