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Deadly overnight protests in Iran

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    Nine more reported dead in Iran as protests enter sixth day
    It is estimated that 21 people have now been killed in demonstrations that have spread across the country



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    Riot police use smoke grenades against students at Tehran University during a demonstration at the weekend. Photograph: AP
    Saeed Kamali Dehghan Iran correspondent and agencies

    Tue 2 Jan ‘18 08.04 GMTLast modified on Tue 2 Jan ‘18 08.39 GMT

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    Nine more people have died in overnight clashes between protesters and security forces in Iran, state television has reported, as unrest in the country entered a sixth day.

    State TV said six protesters were killed as they tried to storm a police station in the town of Qahderijan in the central Isfahan region. It also said an 11-year-old boy and a 20-year-old man were killed in the town of Khomeinishahr, while a member of Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard was killed in the town of Najafabad. All three were shot by hunting rifles, which are common in the Iranian countryside, the report said. None of the reports could be confirmed independently.

    It is estimated that 21 people have now died nationwide in unrest linked to the demonstrations, the largest in Iran since its disputed 2009 presidential election.

    Protests over the weak economy and a jump in food prices that began on Thursday in Mashhad have spread to cities across the country and taken on a political dimension. Some protesters have chanted slogans against the government of Iran’s moderate president, Hassan Rouhani, and the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

    The semi official Ilna news agency quoted a deputy governor of Tehran province as saying that 450 people had been arrested in the capital alone since Saturday. No nationwide arrest figures have been released by authorities since the demonstrations began.

    Videos posted on social networks on Monday appeared to show riot police becoming more confrontational. Protesters were seen attacking government buildings and shattering windows in an escalation of the unrest.

    Observers reported riot police riding on motorbikes and wielding batons on the streets of Tehran. Similar scenes were reported in other cities.

    Rouhani spoke with a number of parliamentarians on Monday but officials insisted the meeting was planned before the protests began. The president acknowledged anger over the country’s flagging economy, though he and others warned that the government would not hesitate to crack down on those it considered lawbreakers.

    The scale and the speed at which the protests have spread across Iran has puzzled many in the country, including reformists who are critical of the political atmosphere but are wary of any move towards regime change.

    Iran blocked access to social networks including Telegram and Instagram on Sunday, but insisted the move was temporary. Iranian officials appeared more conciliatory than in their handling of previous protests and acknowledged that some protesters have legitimate economic grievances.