Tragedy as 9-year-old boy among those shot in Iran unrest

Iran issues first death sentence amid anti-hijab protests

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A nine-year-old boy was one of seven people shot dead by gunmen in the western Iranian city of Izeh on Wednesday night. A 13-year-old was also killed. A family member of the boy,  identified as Kian Pirfalak, accused Iranian security forces of carrying out the attack.

Wednesday’s night of violence was some of the worst unrest since the protests began. Fifteen people died, including members of the security forces, The Telegraph reported. 

Authorities blamed the deaths on a “terrorist group” that “took advantage of a gathering of protesters in front of the central market of the locality to open fire on people and security officers”, according to a report by the official IRNA news agency.

But a family member of the slain nine-year-old boy, accused Iranian security forces of carrying out the attack, in a tweet shared by Radio Farda, a US-funded Persian station based in Prague.

“He was going home with his father and was targeted with bullets by the corrupt regime of the Islamic republic. Their car was attacked from all four sides,” the unidentified family member is heard saying in an audio recording.

The boy’s body was reportedly taken to the family home covered in ice because family members feared if he was sent to the morgue it would be taken by the security forces, the Guardian reported. 

The boy is one of the youngest to be killed since protests erupted in the wake of Mahsa Amini’s death in custody.

The 22-year-old died after being arrested by “morality police” for allegedly wearing her hijab “improperly”.

Protests which initially flared over hijab rules have grown into a broad movement against Iran’s leadership. 

At least 362 people have been killed and 16,033 arrested so far, according to Human Rights Activists in Iran which said on Thursday they had confirmed the death of 56 minors, including an 8-year-old killed in Zahedan on October 29. 

In a separate attack, gunmen also riding motorcycles shot dead two members of Iran’s paramilitary Basij in the central city of Isfahan, according to the state-run IRNA news agency. 

It was not immediately clear what motivated the attacks or if they were linked to the nationwide protests. Another 10 people, including security forces, were wounded in the shooting in Izeh, according to state TV.

State TV said that groups of several dozens of protesters had gathered in different parts of Izeh late on Wednesday, chanting anti-government slogans and hurling rocks at police, who fired tear gas to disperse them. State-linked media also reported that someone set fire to a Shiite religious seminary.

Hossein Amirabdollahian, Iran’s foreign minister, on Thursday, accused the West and Israel of fomenting civil war.

“Various security services, Israel and some Western politicians who have made plans for civil war, destruction and the disintegration of Iran, should know that Iran is not Libya or Sudan,” he tweeted, adding that Iranians would not fall for such plans.

At least five protesters have now been sentenced to death in Iran. 

Human rights activists condemned the death sentences saying they were the results of unfair trials, according to the BBC.

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