Iran rebels defiant as death toll soars to 43

PROTESTS over election results in Iran have left at least 43 people dead, it was claimed last night.

Leaders of the resistance to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said the victims had been cut down ruthlessly by riot police and other government agents such as the feared Basij militia.

The figures emerged as opposition leader Mir-Hossein Mousavi led a day of mourning in the centre of Iran’s capital Tehran.

Demonstrators, many wearing black in memory of the dead, carried candles and flowers as they filed through the city centre in protest at the hardline president’s re-election in polls last weekend that were alleged to have been rigged.

Mr Mousavi’s supporters allege the vote was fixed so that Mr Ahmadinejad won a second term in a landslide and they want another poll.

Yesterday, the country’s Guardian Council, which is investigating their claims, said they had identified 646 separate complaints.

It has invited all the main politicians to a discussion meeting on Saturday.

The past few days have seen the biggest protests in the Islamic republic’s 30-year history.

Yesterday Mr Mousavi addressed his followers at a rally in Tehran through a loudspeaker.

Some of his audience chanted: “Death to the dictator” and a banner read: “Why did you kill our brothers?”

Although the official death toll for the violence is eight, the National Council of Resistance of Iran, the umbrella group for anti-Ahmadinejad protesters, put it much higher.

its statement said: “At least 43 people have been killed by agents of the Revolutionary Guards, anti-riot force and other suppressive forces during the first five days of the people’s uprising.”

Thirty of the dead – including children and women – were killed in Tehran and 13 in other cities including Esfahan, Shiras and Mashad. According to opposition sources, the killers had gunned them down, stabbed or beaten them to death.

Meanwhile, the Iranian national football team, which took the protest into the sporting arena by wearing pro-Mousavi green armbands in a World Cup qualifying match, were facing a perilous homecoming.

At least eight of the team had donned the symbolic bands as they drew with South Korea in Seoul on Wednesday, while fans showed their support by staging a protest outside the stadium.

Meanwhile, disturbing images of the continuing clashes are still emerging despite the government’s media blackout.

Pictures on internet messaging services included a man lying dead, face up against a wall.


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