Iran regime tries to stamp out protests with show of force

Government forces sought to reimpose an iron grip on Tehran and other cities yesterday, a day after Iran was convulsed by violence which left at least eight dead and the Islamic regime facing a crisis of authority.

Plainclothes agents and special police units were reported to be deployed in overwhelming numbers in four of Tehran's main squares – Enghelab, Haft-e Tir, Valiasr and Ferdowsi – which formed part of the focal point of Sunday's fierce confrontations. Three city-centre underground stations were also closed as authorities sought to block off gathering points for protesters.

But skirmishes were reported between opposition supporters and government forces in Haft-e Tir square. Teargas was said to have been fired at opposition supporters who had gathered outside Ebn-e Sina hospital, where the nephew of the reformist leader Mir Hossein Mousavi was pronounced dead after having being shot on Sunday.

The clampdown followed the arrests of at least 10 senior political figures overnight, including three Mousavi aides and Ebrahim Yazdi, 78, a former foreign minister and one-time adviser to the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, spiritual leader of the 1979 Islamic revolution.

Last night Barack Obama praised "the courage and the conviction of the Iranian people" while condemning the government for attacking demonstrators with "the iron fist of brutality". The US president said Iran's troubles were caused by its leaders' decision "to govern throu... >>>

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