The head of Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guards warned protesters that Saturday would be their last day of taking to the streets, in a sign that security forces may intensify their fierce crackdown on unrest sweeping the country.
Iran has been gripped by protests since the death of 22-year-old Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini in the custody of the morality police last month, posing one of the boldest challenges to the clerical leadership since the 1979 revolution.
“Do not come to the streets! Today is the last day of the riots,” Guards commander Hossein Salami said in some of the toughest language used in the crisis, which Iran’s clerical leadership blames on its foreign enemies including Israel and the United States.
“This sinister plan, is a plan hatched … in the White House and the Zionist regime,” Salami said. Iranians have defied such warnings throughout the popular revolt in which women have played a prominent role. There were more reports of fresh bloodshed on Saturday.
Human rights group Hengaw reported security forces shooting students at a girl’s school in the city of Saqez. In another post it said security forces opened fire on students at Kurdistan University of Medical Science, in the Kurdistan provincial capital of Sanandaj. Several students were injured, one of them shot in the head, Hengaw said.
The Intelligence Ministry and the intelligence arm of the Revolutionary Guards have accused spy agencies from the United States, Britain, Israel and Saudi Arabia of having orchestrated the unrest to destabilise the Islamic Republic.
Meanwhile, mourners gathered Saturday in the southern Iranian city of Shiraz to bury the victims of a deadly assault on a shrine, while chanting slogans against nationwide “riots” over Mahsa Amini’s death.
At least 15 people were killed Wednesday in a key Shiite Muslim shrine in the city, according to official media, in an attack claimed by the Daesh group.—Agencies