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Activists: Iranian forces unleash heavy fire on protesters

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In this image from video provided by Hengaw Organization for Human Rights, a protester reacts after a water container was hit by a bullet during a protest in Javanroud, a Kurdish town in western Iran, Monday, Nov. 21, 2022.
In this image from video provided by Hengaw Organization for Human Rights, a protester reacts after a water container was hit by a bullet during a protest in Javanroud, a Kurdish town in western Iran, Monday, Nov. 21, 2022. (Hengaw Organization for Human Rights via AP) Photo Gallery

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Iranian security forces used heavy gunfire against protesters in a Kurdish town in the country’s west on Monday, killing at least five during an anti-government protest that erupted at the funeral of two people killed the day before, activists said.

Videos circulating online show dozens of protesters taking shelter in alleyways as heavy gunfire echoes through the streets. Some show individuals lying motionless and bloodied in the streets, while others show residents gathering at a local hospital to donate blood.

Iran has been convulsed by anti-government protests since the Sept. 16 death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, a Kurdish woman who died in the custody of the country’s morality police in the capital, Tehran. The protests — initially concentrated in the western, Kurdish region of Iran where Amini was from — have spread across the country and escalated into calls for the overthrow of Iran’s ruling clerics.

Hengaw, a Kurdish human rights group, said Iranian security forces unleashed heavy gunfire on protesters in the town of Javanrud, where a funeral was held for two protesters killed the day before. It cited witnesses as saying that Iranian forces used heavy machine guns.

Hengaw said seven people were killed on Monday, while another group, the Kurdistan Human Rights Network, put the toll at five. The latter group said many of the wounded were being treated in homes because of fears they could be arrested from hospitals, making it difficult to confirm the toll. It said several were shot in the head or chest.

Iranian authorities heavily restrict media coverage of the protests and have periodically shut off internet access, making it difficult to confirm details of the unrest.

The semiofficial Fars news agency reported protests in Javanrud on Sunday night, saying security forces were fired upon with live ammunition. It said two people were killed and four wounded.

Later on Monday, state TV interviewed a local security official, Mohammad Pourhashemi, who blamed the shooting in Javanrud on local gunmen who he said had exchanged fire with security forces. The report did not provide further details.

At least 426 people have been killed and more than 17,400 arrested, according to Human Rights Activists in Iran, a group monitoring the unrest. It says at least 55 members of the security forces have been killed.

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