Clashes reported in Iran protests

There are reports in social media sites and non-state Iranian news sites of clashes between protesters and security forces in Tehran, the Iranian capital.

Thousands are demonstrators were marching on Monday on Enghelab and Azadi streets (which connect, creating a straight path through the centre of the city), with a heavy presence in Enghelab Square and Vali-Asr Street, according to these reports.

Several clashes have been reported on Twitter, the micro-blogging site, with claims of some demonstrators being teargassed and others beaten and arrested.

Al Jazeera’s Dorsa Jabbari, in Tehran, confirmed reports that security forces used tear gas and pepper spray against the protesters and even baton-charged them.

She said up to 10,000 security forces had been deployed to prevent protesters from gathering at Azadi Square, where the marches, originating from various points in Tehran, were expected to converge.

The AFP news agency reported that police fired paintball bullets on protesters. One video, posted on Youtube (claiming to be from Monday’s protests) shows people chanting, “political prisoners must be freed” when a woman cries that tear gas has been deployed, dispersing the crowd.

On the Facebook page used to organise Monday’s marches, there were also reports of shooting in or around Enghelab Square as well as demonstrations in the cities of Mashhad, Shiraz and Kermanshah.

Also posted on Twitter and Facebook were reports that Mir Hossein Mousavi and his wife, Zahrah Rahnavard, had joined one of the marches.

The other key opposition leader, Mehdi Karroubi, is still under house arrest.

Al Jazeera was unable to confirm whether Mousavi and Rahnavard joined the protest, and at last report, Kaleme.com, a pro-reformist website, said that security forces had prevented the couple from leaving their home.

The current security clampdown is reminiscent of the one that crushed a wave of protests after the disputed re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iranian president, in June 2009.

Opposition supporters revived a tactic from the 2009 protests, shouting “Allahu Akbar” or God is Great, and “Death to the dictator”, from rooftops and balconies into the early hours Monday in a sign of defiance towards Iran’s leadership.

Several opposition activists and aides to Mousavi and Karroubi have been arrested in recent days as part of the Iranian government efforts to intimidate the opposition and undermine its resolve to hold a rally.

There was no mention of Monday’s demonstrations on state-run television stations or websites. Instead, one station replayed interviews it did with those who attended the march celebrating the 32nd anniversary of the Islamic revolution on Friday.

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