Deadly clashes in Iran's Sistan and Baluchistan province after protests
The protests over the alleged rape of a 15-year-old young woman by an Iranian police chief in Iran's Sistan and Baluchistan province have been responded with lethal police violence, leading to many casualties, according to various sources.
Independent Iranian news outlet Iran Wire said that crowds were targeted by the police and military on Friday after people gathered for prayers in a mosque in the city of Zahedan and demanded that the offender is punished.
Iran Wire claimed over some video footage that Iranian troops fired at the people from inside a police station and from a circling helicopter.
The protests in the Sunni-majority city of Zahedan turned at noon into armed clashes, leading to many casualties, Iran International said.
Iran's state media IRNA said on Saturday that the death toll in Zahedan reached 19, and some 20 others were injured, including some police officers.
IRNA more recently said on Sunday that five members of the Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (IRGC) were killed in clashes, and a further 32 were injured.
According to a report by IRGC-affiliated Tasnim News Agency, Ali Mousavi, IRGC intelligence chief in the Sistan and Baluchistan province, is among the fatalities.
Al Arabiya on Sunday put the fatalities at 41, citing Norway-based Iran Human Rights Organization (IHR).
The Baluch Activists Campaign, estimated the fatalities at 58 and the number of injured at 270, noting that "the casualties are increasing in different areas of Zahedan."
Baluchistan, a region split between Iran and Pakistan, is inhabited by the Baluchi people who are mostly Sunni Muslims, which makes them a minority in predominantly Shiite Iran.