Iran arrests key opposition figures in effort to end protests
Guardian / Richard Spencer

A former regime foreign minister, three close aides to Mir Hossein Moussavi, the defeated presidential candidate, and two aides to Mohammad Khatami, the former president, were all taken away by security forces, according to the opposition.

The arrests followed Sunday's violence, the worst on the streets of Iran's major cities since the protests immediately after the disputed re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in June. State media confirmed eight deaths, though one report put the number at 15.Both sides accused the other of dishonouring Sunday's holy Shia festival of Ashura, which commemorates the death of the Imam Hossein, the Prophet Mohammed's grandson.

Mehdi Karroubi, another reformist candidate defeated in the election, compared the regime to that of the Shah, overthrown in 1979. "What has really happened that spilled the blood of people on the day of Ashura and gets a group of savage individuals confronting people?" he said. He accused the regime of "dipping its hands in people's blood".

But a group of conservative clerics based in the holy city of Qom issued a statement putting the blame on the protesters. "The association of Qom theologians asks officials to identify those behind yesterday's events and take appropriate measures to firmly encounter and punish them," a statement said.

Dramatic video footage emailed around the world showed barricades on fire, a policeman with blood pouring down his face and crowds chanting slogans... >>>

recommended by Shifteh Ansari