Crowds of peaceful protestors took to the streets in several Iranian cities as of December 28 to show disgruntlement at economic problems, including high prices, unemployment and corruption. But the street gatherings soon took a violent turn in some cities, as a result of which 21 people lost their lives.
Speaking on the sidelines of a conference in Tehran Wednesday, Iran’s Police Chief Brigadier General Hossein Ashtari denied speculations that the victims were killed during clashes between police forces and rioters.
The commander said police officers tasked with controlling the protests were ordered to show restraint and act professionally to avoid unnecessary tensions.
“None of our officers were carrying live bullets. Besides, experienced personnel were deployed [to control the protests] and the arrests were made selectively,” ISNA quoted the top commander as saying in a Farsi report.
“The deaths were suspicious and [the related cases] are under investigation”.
Some protesters vandalized public property and launched attacks on police stations and government buildings during the wave of sporadic violence, prompting intervention by police forces.
Police detained hundreds of demonstrators during the protests, but most of them have been released in recent weeks.
Some officials have suggested the violent clashes were instigated by small groups of rioters led by foreign intelligence agencies.