9 Killed in Overnight Unrest

Iranian state television said Tuesday another nine people were killed overnight during anti-government protests, raising the overall death toll to more than 20 killed since the demonstrations against economic conditions in the country began late last week.

According to the report, six people were killed at a police station in the town of Qahdarijan in clashes that began as rioters tried to steal guns.

In Najafabad, state media said a police officer was killed.

WATCH: Iran Protests

​President Hassan Rouhani vowed Monday that security forces would “respond to rioters and lawbreakers.”

“The government will show no tolerance for those who damage public properties, violate public order and create unrest in the society,” he said.

Hundreds of demonstrators have been arrested since the protests began Thursday in Mashhad before spreading to other parts of the country.

Those rallying against the government are upset with economic difficulties such as high unemployment and rising food prices.

In a speech to parliamentary leaders, Rouhani lashed out at foreign countries, including the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia, for allegedly fomenting unrest in Iran.

“Our progress and success in the world of politics and against the U.S. and the Zionist regime was not bearable to them,” he said, while singling out Saudi Arabia for saying it “will create problems in Tehran.”

Turkey’s Foreign Ministry said Tuesday it hopes foreign interventions will be avoided, and that it is concerned about the reported casualties. The ministry statement said violence and “provocations” should be avoided.

U.S. President Donald Trump expressed support for the protests in a Twitter comment Monday, saying it is “time for change” in Iran.

“Iran is failing at every level despite the terrible deal made with them by the Obama Administration. The great Iranian people have been repressed for many years. They are hungry for food & for freedom. Along with human rights, the wealth of Iran is being looted,” Trump said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the protesters “brave” and “heroic,” while wishing them “success in their noble quest for freedom.”

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said his government regrets “the loss of life that has occurred in the protests” and called on all parties to refrain from violence.

“We believe that there should be meaningful debate about the legitimate and important issues the protesters are raising and we look to the Iranian authorities to permit this,” Johnson said.

Rouhani minimized the unrest, saying, “This is nothing.”

“Our nation will deal with this minority who chant slogans against the law and people’s wishes, and insult the sanctities and values of the revolution,” the Iranian president said. “The people are absolutely free in expressing their criticisms and even protests. But criticism is different to violence and destroying public property.”

The Trump administration says it is “very concerned” about Tehran blocking Iranians from communicating via social media platforms in a bid to dampen the protests.

Iran blocked access to messaging app Telegram and photo-sharing app Instagram on Sunday, with state media saying the moves were meant to maintain peace. Iranians had been using the apps to communicate about the street demonstrations, the biggest outpouring of public discontent with Iran’s clerical leaders since 2009 protests against the results of a disputed presidential election.

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