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Iran fires bullets and tear gas at protesters

IRANIAN security forces fired live ammunition and tear gas at people today protesting against the government’s downing of a Ukrainian jetliner and subsequent cover-up.

Footage sent to the New York-based Centre for Human Rights in Iran, later verified by the Associated Press, shows a crowd of demonstrators near Azadi Square in Tehran fleeing as a tear gas canister lands among them.

People are heard coughing as they try to escape the fumes, with one woman calling out in Farsi: “They fired tear gas at people! Azadi Square! Death to the dictator!”

Another video shows a woman being carried away in the aftermath as a trail of blood is seen on the ground. Those around her cry out that she has been shot in the leg, with one saying: “Oh my God, she’s bleeding non-stop!”

Photos and video taken after the incident show pools of blood on the sidewalk.

Tehran police chief Hossein Rahimi denied that his officers opened fire, telling local media: “Police treated people who had gathered with patience and tolerance.
 
“Police did not shoot in the gatherings since broad-mindedness and restraint has been the agenda of the police forces of the capital.”

But the establishment Fars News Agency admitted that police had “shot tear gas in some areas” and broadcast videos showing demonstrators in Tehran on Sunday night tearing down a poster of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani.

Soleimani, who led the Revolutionary Guard’s Quds Force, was killed in a US air strike last week – igniting fears of a war between the two countries. 

Iran responded with a ballistic missile attack on two bases housing US troops in Iraq, with no casualties.

It was later revealed that Iran accidentally shot down the Ukrainian plane, killing all 176 people on board. 

Iranian officials had initially denied it had struck the jet, suggesting that the crash was caused by a technical failure.

Anti-riot police officers and other security forces were on the streets of Tehran yesterday as Iranians continued to express anger at the ruling parties.

The Guard has been accused of opening fire on demonstrators during previous waves of protests, including after an increase in gasoline prices in November when more than 300 people were reportedly killed in a crackdown.

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