Police battle protesters in Tehran as unrest grows

There have been running battles between Iranian police and anti-government protesters in Tehran in the worst unrest there for years.

One person told BBC Persian that her neighbourhood resembled a battlefield.

The protests, now in their seventh day, have reached 80 other cities and towns. A human rights group said at least 31 civilians had been killed, while state television puts the death toll at 17.

The unrest was sparked by the death of a woman detained by morality police.

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Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish woman from the north-western city of Saqez, died in hospital in Tehran on Friday following three days in a coma.

She was visiting the capital on September 13when she was arrested by morality police officers who accused her of violating the law requiring women to cover their hair with a hijab, or headscarf, and their arms and legs with loose clothing. She collapsed after being taken to a detention centre.

There are reports that officers beat Ms Amini’s head with a baton and banged her head against one of their vehicles. The police have said there is no evidence of any mistreatment and that she suffered “sudden heart failure”.

In an interview with BBC Persian, Ms Amini’s father, Amjad, said he was not allowed by authorities to see all of her body after it had been wrapped for burial, with just her face and feet being visible.

“There were bruises on her feet,” he said, adding that he had asked doctors to examine them but had never heard back.

Mr Amini also rejected claims from the interior minister and Tehran’s director of forensic medicine that his daughter had pre-existing health problems.

“They are lying,” he said. “She has not been to any hospital at all in the past 22 years, other than for a few cold-related sicknesses.”

Many Iranians were enraged by Ms Amini’s death and the first protests took place after her funeral when women were filmed waving their headscarves in the air and shouting “death to the dictator” – a chant often directed at the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Similar demonstrations were staged by students at several universities in Tehran, before the protests started spreading rapidly across the country. -BBC

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