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Teen killed as Iran town protests for third day

TEHRAN, Oct 10 (Reuters) - One teenager has died in three days of demonstrations in northwest Iran over demands for better public services, the Qods newspaper said on Tuesday.

The protests broke out on Saturday in the town of Ajabshir, 75 km (46 miles) south of the regional capital Tabriz, over demands for better telephone services.

Protesters also demanded that Ajabshir, with a population of some 80,000, be upgraded in status so it could attract more government money, better services and more jobs.

``The unrest started after the telephone codes were changed to six-digit numbers,'' Qods quoted Ajabshir's prayer leader as saying. ``But unfortunately people faced an improper reaction from riot police which resulted in the death of a 17-year-old boy.''

A number of people were also wounded in the clashes which continued for a third day on Monday with demonstrators burning tyres on the main streets and shops shut. Telephone lines to the town were not working.

``The government and police are responsible for establishing security, but why have they caused fear and terror?'' Qods quoted the head of Ajabshir Islamic council as saying.

Local officials said the protests would end if police withdrew and representatives of the provincial governor or the interior ministry were sent to hear their demands.

Protests against poor local services are fairly common in Iran and have on occasion turned violent with police and security forces showing little tolerance for public protests.

In a statement faxed to Reuters in Dubai the exiled opposition Iranian National Resistance Council said four people had been killed in what it called an ``uprising'' with special anti-riot police firing ``from the air and the ground.''

Some 200 people had been arrested, said the group which is dominated by the Mujahideen Khalq armed rebels.

But a member of Ajabshir city council told Qods that people in the town were loyal to the Islamic Republic and had chanted slogans against the system and the revolution.


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