19 killed, including 4 IRGC members, in Iran attack

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Europeans accused of role in unrest arrested

An attack by armed separatists on a police station in a southeastern city killed 19 people, including four members of Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard, Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency reported Saturday.

The assailants in Friday’s attack hid among worshippers near a mosque in the city of Zahedan and attacked the nearby police station, according to the report.

IRNA quoted Hossein Modaresi, the provincial governor, as saying 19 people were killed. The outlet said 32 Guard members, including volunteer Basiji forces, were also wounded in the clashes.

It was not immediately clear if the attack was related to nationwide anti-government protests gripping Iran after the death in police custody of a young Iranian woman. Sistan and Balochistan province borders Afghanistan and Pakistan and has seen previous attacks on security forces by ethnic Balochi separatists.

IRNA on Saturday identified the dead as Hamidreza Hashemi, a Revolutionary Guard colonel; Mohammad Amin Azarshokr, a Guard member; Mohamad Amin Arefi, a Basiji, or volunteer force with the IRG; and Saeed Borhan Rigi, also a Basiji. Tasnim and other state-linked Iranian news outlets reported Friday that the head of the Guard’s intelligence department, Seyyed Ali Mousavi, was shot during the attack and later died.

It is not unusual for IRG members to be present at police bases around the country.

Thousands of Iranians have taken to the streets over the last two weeks to protest the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman who had been detained by the morality police in the capital of Tehran for allegedly wearing her mandatory Islamic headscarf too loosely.

The protesters have vented their anger over the treatment of women and wider repression in the Islamic Republic. The nationwide demonstrations rapidly escalated into calls for the overthrow of the clerical establishment that has ruled Iran since its 1979 Islamic revolution.

Meanwhile, Iran, which has blamed “foreign enemies” for protests that swept the country after the death of a woman in morality police custody, said on Friday it had arrested nine European nationals for their role in the unrest.

The detention of citizens of Germany, Poland, Italy, France, the Netherlands, Sweden and other countries is likely to ratchet up tensions between Iran and Western countries over the death of Mahsa Amini.

The escalation comes as more casualties were reported. Nineteen people were killed after security forces fired on armed protesters attacking a police station, said an official.

Tehran has responded to international condemnation of the case by lashing out at its critics, accusing the United States of exploiting the unrest to try to destabilise Iran.

The nine unidentified people were detained “during the riots or while plotting in the background,” the Intelligence Ministry said in

 

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