Iranian police say one officer killed by protester, raising stakes in unrest

DUBAI (Reuters) – A protester shot and killed a policeman during demonstrations in Iran, police said on Monday, the first reported fatality among security forces struggling to contain unrest challenging the clerical leadership.

Demonstrations continued for a fifth day, after 13 people were reported to have been killed on Sunday in the worst wave of unrest since 2009 when huge crowds took to the streets to condemn the re-election of then-president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The protests put pressure on the clerical leaders in power since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, as well as President Hassan Rouhani who made a televised call for calm on Sunday, saying Iranians had the right to criticize but must not cause unrest.

The killing of the police officer happened when a demonstrator opened fire with a hunting rifle in the central city of Najafabad, police spokesman Saeed Montazer al-Mahdi was quoted as saying by state TV. Three policemen were wounded. It was not clear when the incident took place.

State TV said armed demonstrators on Sunday had tried to seize police and military bases but were stopped by “strong resistance from security forces.” It gave no further details and there was no independent confirmation.

Ten people were reported killed in protests on Sunday, a death toll that rose on Monday when the deputy governor of the western Hamadan Province, Saeed Shahrokhi, told ISNA another three protesters were killed on Sunday in the city of Tuyserkan.

“NO TOLERANCE”

Hundreds of people have been arrested, according to officials and social media. Online video showed police in the capital Tehran firing water cannon to disperse demonstrators, in footage said to have been filmed on Sunday.

Protests against economic hardships and alleged corruption erupted in Iran’s second city of Mashhad on Thursday and escalated across the country into calls for the religious establishment to step down.

Some of the anger was directed at Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, breaking a taboo surrounding the man who has been supreme leader of Iran since 1989.

Video posted on social media showed crowds of people, some chanting “Death to the dictator!”, walking through the streets. Reuters was not immediately able to verify the footage. The Fars news agency reported “scattered groups” of protesters in Tehran on Monday and said a ringleader had been arrested.

“The government will show no tolerance for those who damage public property, violate public order and create…

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