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28.12.09

Iranian opposition leader's nephew killed as thousands of protesters clash with riot police in bloody pitched battle on the streets of Tehran

Iranian security forces in Tehran killed at least eight people, including a nephew of opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi, during the fiercest clashes with anti-government protesters in months. 

Amateur video footage showed an enraged crowd carrying away one of the casualties, chanting: 'I'll kill, I'll kill the one who killed my brother.' 

In several locations in the Iranian capital demonstrators fought back against security forces, hurling stones and setting motorcycles, cars and vans on fire, according to video footage and pro-reform websites. 

Demonstrations also took place in at least three other cities. 

A close aide to Mousavi, a presidential contender in the disputed June election, said his 35-year-old nephew Ali Habibi Mousavi Khamene died of his injuries in a Tehran hospital.
Mousavi's website and another reformist website also said Ali Mousavi died during clashes in which security forces reportedly fired on demonstrators. 
The protesters in Tehran tried to cut off roads by burning barricades that filled the sky with billowing black smoke. 


One police officer was photographed with blood streaming down his face after he was set upon by the crowd in a burning street.


Iranian protesters take a policeman away to a safe place after he was beaten by angry protesters during fierce clashes in central Tehran


Iranian opposition supporters beat police forces during clashes this afternoon

The protests began with thousands of opposition supporters chanting 'Death to the dictator', a reference to president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, as they took to the streets in defiance of official warnings of a harsh crackdown on any demonstrations coinciding with a religious observance on Sunday. 

Opposition activists have held a series of anti-government protests since the death of a dissident cleric, Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, last week. 

Iranian anti-riot police officers confronting people during an anti-government protest


Anti-riot police beat up a woman protester during today's disturbances


A mob of protesters surround and then attack Iranian police motorcyclist

Security forces tried but failed to disperse protesters on a central Tehran street with tear gas, charges by baton-wielding officers and warning shots fired into the air. 

They then opened fire directly at protesters, killing at least three people, according to witnesses. A fourth protester was shot dead on a nearby street, they said. 

Witnesses and opposition Web site said angry protesters threw stones at security forces and set dozens of their motorbikes on fire

 
Chaos on the streets of Tehran: Iranian protestors flash victory signs during a demonstrations as a demonstrator grabs a policeman's baton and chases after him with it

There were also violent confrontations in at least three other major cities: Isfahan and Najafabad in central Iran and Shiraz in the south. 

Protesters say president Ahmadinejad won the election through massive vote fraud and that Mousavi was the winner. 


Tehran's police chief denied that his officers had fired on the crowd - or that they were even armed. 

Foreign media organisations were barred from covering the demonstrations. 

An Iranian protester throws a stone at riot police as demonstrators ers set their motorbikes


Police officers make their way on their bikes, during anti-government protest in Tehran

Fierce clashes also broke out today between security forces and opposition supporters in the cities of Isfahan and Najafabad in central Iran, the Rah-e-Sabz Web site said.

Mobile phone services were down and Internet connections were slowed to a crawl, as has happened during most other days of opposition protest in an apparent government attempt to limit attention on the events.

Opposition activists have held a series of anti-government protests since the death of a dissident cleric last week.

A mob of protesters surround and then attack Iranian police motorcyclists. The motorcycles were then burnt and the police were heckled by the protesters 


Cornered: A mob of protesters surround and then attack Iranian police motorcyclists

The Dec. 20 death of the 87-year-old Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, a sharp critic of Iran's leaders, has given a new push to opposition protests, which have endured despite a heavy security crackdown since the election.

His memorials have brought out not only the young, urban activists who filled the ranks of earlier protests, but also older, more religious Iranians who revered Montazeri on grounds of faith as much as politics. 


Tens of thousands marched in his funeral procession in the holy city of Qom on Monday, many chanting slogans against the government.

Tehran bus
Locals stand next to a burnt out bus at a bus stop in Tehran following the protests

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