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Iranian police fire tear gas and live rounds against protesters, online videos show

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By Euronews with AP
This frame grab from a Sunday, Jan. 12, 2020 video provided by the New York-based Center for Human Rights in Iran shows a crowd fleeing police in Tehran, Iran.
This frame grab from a Sunday, Jan. 12, 2020 video provided by the New York-based Center for Human Rights in Iran shows a crowd fleeing police in Tehran, Iran.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Center for Human Rights in Iran

Iranian security forces fired both live ammunition and tear gas to disperse demonstrators protesting against the Islamic Republic's initial denial that it shot down a Ukrainian jetliner, online videos indicated on Monday.

Videos sent to the New York-based Center for Human Rights in Iran and later verified by The Associated Press show a crowd of demonstrators near Azadi, or Freedom Square fleeing as a tear gas canister landed among them.

Another video shows a woman being carried away in the aftermath as a blood trail can be seen on the ground. Those around her cry out that she has been shot by live ammunition in the leg.

''Oh my God, she's bleeding nonstop!'' one person shouts. Another shouts: ``Bandage it!''

Photos and video after the incident show pools of blood on the street.

Authorities deny opening fire

Tehran's police chief, Gen. Hossein Rahimi, later denied his officers opened fire though the semiofficial Fars news agency said police ''shot tear gas in some areas.''

''Police treated people who had gathered with patience and tolerance,'' Iranian media quoted Rahimi as saying. ''Police did not shoot in the gatherings since broad-mindedness and restraint has been agenda of the police forces of the capital.''

The Guard previously has been accused of opening fire on demonstrators during protests over government-set gasoline prices rising in November, violence that reportedly saw hundreds of people killed.

[READ MORE: At least 143 protesters have died in Iran, says Amnesty International](At least 143 protesters have died in Iran, says Amnesty International)

The crash of the Ukraine International Airline early on Wednesday killed all 176 people on board, mostly Iranians and Iranian-Canadians.

After pointing to a technical failure and insisting for three days that the Iranian armed forces were not to blame, authorities on Saturday admitted accidentally shooting it down in the face of mounting evidence and accusations by Western leaders.

Iranians have expressed anger over the downing of the plane and the misleading explanations from senior officials in the wake of the tragedy. They are also mourning the dead, which included many young people who were studying abroad.

At earlier protests, Saturday, students in Tehran shouted: ''They are lying that our enemy is America! Our enemy is right here!'' Another Fars video showed demonstrators on Sunday night tearing down a poster of Soleimani in Tehran.

Ali Rabiei, a government spokesman, insisted Iran's civilian officials only learned Friday that the Guard shot down the plane.


Javad Kashi, a professor of politics at Tehran Allameh University, wrote online that people should be allowed to express their anger in public protests. ''Buckled under the pressure of humiliation and being ignored, people poured into the streets with so much anger,'' he wrote. Let them cry as much as they want.''

There's also been a cultural outpouring of grief and anger from Iran's creative community.

Some Iranian artists, including famed director Masoud Kimiai, withdrew from an upcoming international film festival. Two state TV hosts resigned in protest over the false reporting about the cause of the plane crash.

Taraneh Alidoosti, one of Iran's most-famous actresses, posted a picture of a black square on Instagram with the caption: ''We are not citizens. We are hostages. Millions of hostages.''

Saeed Maroof, the captain of Iran's national volleyball team, also wrote on Instagram: ''I wish I could be hopeful that this was the last scene of the show of deceit and lack of wisdom of these incompetents but I still know it is not.''

He said that despite the qualification of Iran's national team for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics after years of efforts, ''there is no energy left in our sad and desperate souls to celebrate.''