Protests have turned violent in Iran’s Alborz Province, west of the capital Tehran, with reports saying armed rioters have killed a member of the Basij volunteer force and injured at least 10 police officers in the unrest.
Iran's official news agency IRNA said on Thursday that a number of rioters in Karaj, the capital city of Alborz Province, under the pretext of the 40th day since the death of one of those killed in the recent foreign-backed protests, tried to block one of the main roads connecting the western city to Qazvin Province, creating heavy traffic.
Following the havoc, police and security forces intervened to disperse the rioters and reopen the road, however, the rioters tried to keep the road closed by lighting a fire and throwing rocks and construction debris at the forces.
The rioters also started destroying the road signs and provoking the public by chanting slogans.
According to IRNA, the rabble-rousers, along with violent protesters, attacked the police forces while stopping one of their cars, seriously injuring three officers.
The rioters also set fire to a police kiosk in Hesarak Square in Karaj and a police van in a nearby neighborhood.
Riots broke out in Iran on September 16 after a young Iranian woman, identified as Mahsa Amini died. The 22-year-old fainted at a police station in the capital, Tehran, and was later pronounced dead at a hospital. An official report by Iran’s Legal Medicine Organization said that Amini’s controversial death was caused by an illness rather than alleged blows to the head or other vital body organs.
The rioters have been going on a rampage across the country, attacking security officers, resorting to vandalism against public property, and desecrating religious sanctities.
The US administration and its European allies have over the past weeks imposed sanctions against a number of Iranian individuals and entities over what they claim a heavy-handed crackdown on violent protesters across the country after the death of the 22-year-old woman of Kurdish descent in police custody in Tehran.
Last week, Iran’s Intelligence Ministry said the United States and the United Kingdom were “directly” involved in the recent riots, adding that dozens of terrorists affiliated with the Zionist regime and anti-revolution groups have also been detained in the unrest.
Iran’s Intelligence Ministry and the Intelligence Organization of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) also issued a statement on Friday, pointing to the major role of foreign intelligence agencies, especially the CIA, in orchestrating the violent riots in Iran in the past weeks.
Gunmen kill Shia clergyman in Zahedan
In a separate development on Thursday, IRNA reported that unidentified armed men had killed a Shia cleric in charge of daily prayers at a mosque in Iran's southeastern city of Zahedan in Sistan and Baluchestan Province.
The news agency said the cleric, Sajjad Shahraki, had been shot in the head and chest, and had succumbed to his wounds despite being transferred to hospital.
Media reports said an extensive investigation was swiftly opened following Shahraki’s martyrdom to identify and arrest the gunmen, and unravel their motives.