Iranian security forces opened fire on Friday on demonstrators in a southeastern city that has seen weeks of unrest amid nationwide demonstrations, activists said.
There are reports the shooting in Zahedan killed at least six people, including a 12-year-old boy, threatening to ignite further tensions.
Located in Iran's long-restive Sistan and Baluchestan province, Zahedan has seen the deadliest violence so far in the weeks of protests that have gripped Iran.
The demonstrations in the city erupted in part over a rape allegation against a senior police officer there, dovetailing the protests over the death in September of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini that have inflamed most of the country.
Activists estimate that in Zahedan alone, nearly 100 people have been killed since a September 30 rally there set off a violent police response. On Friday, soldiers surrounded a key Sunni mosque in the area where residents rallied against the Iranian government, while also shooting at demonstrators, activists said.
The protests across Iran have become the greatest threat to the country’s theocratic government since the 2009 Green Movement demonstrations, evolving from focusing on women's rights and the state-mandated headscarf, or hijab, to calls to oust Shiite clerics who have ruled Iran since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
Weeks into the protests, women continue to remove their hijabs during the street demonstrations as international pressure grows on Iran’s government over its crackdown on protesters.
The demonstrations have involved over 125 cities; at least 270 people have been killed and nearly 14,000 have been arrested, according to the group Human Rights Activists in Iran.