Dubai, United Arab Emirates — Gunmen opened fire at a bazaar in the southwestern Iranian city of Izeh on Wednesday, killing at least five people including a teenage girl and injuring civilians and security forces, state television reported.
According to the state news agency IRNA, gunmen shot dead two members of the paramilitary Basij in downtown Isfahan in another attack. In both attacks, the gunmen reportedly rode motorcycles.
It was not immediately clear what motivated the attacks or if they were linked to the nationwide protests that have rocked Iran over the past two months. According to state television, another 10 people, including security forces, were injured in the shooting in Izeh.
Valiollah Hayati, deputy governor of Khuzestan province, where Izeh is located, told state television that a young girl and a woman were among those killed.
State television said groups of several dozen protesters had gathered in different parts of Izeh late Wednesday, chanting anti-government slogans and hurling stones at police, who fired tear gas to disperse them. State media also reported that someone set fire to a Shia religious seminary.
Violence has erupted in some protests as security forces cracked down on dissent. Iran has also seen a series of recent attacks blamed on separatists and religious extremists, including a shooting at a large Shia shrine last month that killed over a dozen people and was alleged by the Islamic State group.
The demonstrations, sparked by the September 16 death of a 22-year-old woman being held by the country’s vice squad, quickly escalated into calls for the overthrow of Iran’s ruling clergy and an end to the theocracy established after 1979 Islam Revolution.
Authorities have severely restricted media access and regularly shut down the internet, making it difficult to confirm details of unrest in different parts of the country.
The violence in Izeh came on the second day of a three-day general strike called by protesters. The strike commemorates an earlier round of nationwide protests in 2019 that left hundreds of protesters dead.
Iranian officials have blamed the unrest on hostile foreign actors without providing any evidence. Protesters say they are fed up with decades of oppression by a clerical establishment they see as corrupt and authoritarian.
Activists say at least 344 people have been killed and 15,820 arrested in the latest wave of protests. Human rights groups have accused the security forces of firing live ammunition and bird shots at demonstrators and beating them with batons.
Iran’s Revolutionary Court, which reviews security cases, issued an interim verdict on Wednesday that sentenced three protesters to death in the capital Tehran, state media reported. This increases the number of death sentences since the beginning of the most recent protests to four. None were performed.
Mizan, a news website linked to the Iranian judiciary, did not identify the defendants but said one of them allegedly rammed a vehicle into police, killing one and injuring others. Another was accused of attacking security forces with a knife and setting fire to a government building. The third person was accused of blocking a road and leading a violent demonstration. Mizan said the sentences are open to appeal.