Iran today faces the prospect of a bloody Sunday after opposition supporters clashed violently with security forces yesterday at the start of a key religious ceremony that had been identified beforehand as a dangerous flashpoint.
Amid ominous signs that political tensions were reaching breaking point, reformist websites reported that special forces fired teargas and attacked crowds gathered in some of Tehran's main thoroughfares to begin two days of commemorations for one of Shia Islam's holiest figures. The opposition website Rah-e Sabz reported confrontations in Enghelab, Haft-e Tir and Imam Hossein Squares. Unconfirmed accounts told of disturbances breaking out between Ferdowsi Square and Valiasr crossroads and between Choobi Bridge and Shahmirzadi Hosseinieh.
Government forces were said to have smashed the windows of cars whose drivers honked their horns in support of the protest. Security forces chased protesters into the premises of the student news agency ISNA, off Enghelab Square, and beat them with chains and batons, Rah-e Sabz reported. The Iranian Human Rights Activists news agency said there had been at least 10 arrests.
Deutsche Welle's Farsi-language website carried reports of further clashes in Isfahan, Tabriz, Kermanshah and Ahvaz. Internet speeds in Tehran were said to have slowed to a crawl.
The reported disturbances came amid evidence that Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has ordered a crackdown on any challenge... >>>
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