Dozens of casualties as Iranian security forces fire on protesters

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Khamenei praises Basij forces for confronting ‘riots’

Iranian security forces opened fire on protests in the restive southeastern province of Sistan-Baluchistan, leaving dozens of people dead or wounded, activists said.

Iran has intensified a crackdown on protests sparked by the Sept. 16 death in custody of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian woman of Kurdish origin.

Campaigners had called for nationwide demonstrations this week in solidarity with Kurdistan, which along with Sistan-Baluchistan has borne the brunt of Iran’s deadly protest crackdown.

“Kurdistan, Kurdistan, we will support you,” protesters were heard chanting on Friday in a video from the Sistan-Baluchistan capital Zahedan, one of the few Sunni-majority cities in Iran.

“Kurds and Baluchs are brothers, thirsting for the leader’s blood,” they sang in other unverified footage posted on social media, in reference to Iran’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei.

Activists said later that the security forces had opened fire on protesters in the city. “Dozens have been killed or injured,” the London-based Baloch Activists Campaign said on its Telegram channel.

Meanwhile, Iran Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Saturday that Basij militia forces sacrificed their lives in “riots” sparked by the death in custody of a young Iranian Kurdish woman in September.

The Basij force, affiliated with the country’s Revolutionary Guards, has been at the forefront of the state crackdown on protests that have spread across the country. “They have sacrificed their lives to protect people from rioters,” Khamenei said in a televised speech.—AP/Reuters