Antigovernment demonstrations in Iran turned deadly again overnight with nine people, including a policeman, killed amid a fifth day of rallies across the country, despite warnings of a crackdown by officials against the largest protests against the regime in nearly a decade.
Lawmaker Hedayatollah Khademi said two people were killed in Izeh town in Khuzestan province Sunday night, the Iranian Labour News Agency reported.
Nasserbakht said that 200 protesters were arrested on Saturday, 150 on Sunday and 100 were arrested yesterday.
That brings the estimated death toll to 21 in unrest linked to the protests that began last Thursday in the second city of Mashhad and quickly spread across the country.
No figure has yet been offered for other cities.
Nine more people, including an 11-year-old boy, have been killed as anti-government protests continued across Iran on Tuesday.
Tasnim reported the death of a security officer, who the semiofficial news agency said was killed by an armed demonstrator in the central city of Najafabad. The clashes were sparked off as protesters tried to steal guns, according to reports.
It was not clear if those killed in the overnight clashes were demonstrators, police, or members of the country's paramilitary Revolutionary Guard. All were reportedly shot by hunting rifles.
The latest demonstrations came despite President Hassan Rouhani's vow that the nation would deal with "rioters and lawbreakers".
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US President Donald Trump, who has been tweeting in support of the protesters, continued into the New Year, describing Iran as 'failing at every level despite the bad deal made with them by the Obama Administration'.
Earlier on Monday, Iranian state TV said 12 people had been killed amid the nationwide protests.
Authorities have also blocked access to Instagram and the messaging app Telegram to try to damp down the protests.
'The great Iranian people have been repressed for many years, ' he wrote. "They're also demanding more freedoms", Rowhani said Monday, in an indirect attack on regime hardliners who oppose his attempts to push through political and cultural reforms. A recent increase in egg and poultry prices by as much as 40 per cent, which the government has blamed on a cull over avian flu fears, appears to have been the spark for the economic protests.
"We believe it is necessary to avoid violence and not succumb to provocations", the Turkish foreign ministry said in a statement, adding it hoped foreign interventions would be avoided.
The protesters have been warned they will be met with an "iron fist" by a senior officer in Iran's Revolutionary Guard.
'We regret the loss of life that has occurred in the protests in Iran, and call on all concerned to refrain from violence and for worldwide obligations on human rights to be observed, ' he said.
The protests began over Iran's economy, which has improved since the nuclear deal that saw Iran agree to limit its enrichment of uranium in exchange for the end of some global sanctions.