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Iran: Zahedan police chief dismissed over September events

October 29, 2022 at 12:35 pm

Iranian flag [ATTA KENARE/AFP via Getty Images]

The Iranian authorities have dismissed two security officials, including the city’s police chief, in Zahedan in the southeast region of Iran, due to the events of last month that claimed dozens of lives, according to the official media.

Zahedan, the capital of the Sistan-Baluchestan province bordering Afghanistan and Pakistan, witnessed violent events on 30 September in which dozens were killed, including six members of security forces.

The tension in Zahedan came at a time when Iran has been witnessing protests since 16 September after the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, three days after she was arrested by the morality police for not complying with the country’s strict dress code.

The security council in Sistan-Baluchestan announced the conclusion of an investigation conducted into the events at the request of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, according to a statement published by the official news agency Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) on Thursday night.

The statement disclosed: “After the end of the Sunni Friday prayers in the city of Zahedan on September 30th, a group of people (over 150 people) attacked Police Department No. 16, adjacent to the place of prayer, with the intention of gaining control over it.”

It noted that some people were armed and that the crowd fired guns, adding that the security forces responded with tear gas gunshots: “The proximity of the police station to the place of Friday prayer, the incomplete evacuation of the mosque, and the confrontation with gunfire by the police forces, unfortunately, led to the wounding and death of a number of citizens who were performing prayers, and innocent pedestrians who were not involved in the events.”

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The investigation acknowledged that there was “negligence by some officers,” announcing the dismissal of “the commander of Police Station No. 16, and the chief of Zahedan police.” It pledged to compensate the families of the “innocent victims” and take the case to court.

Shortly after the events in Zahedan, Iranian officials stated they were the result of armed attacks on security forces’ posts.

Local figures mentioned tension caused by reports that a girl was raped by an official in the provincial police and that security forces opened fire on gatherings near a mosque in Zahedan.

The council explained that after the Friday prayer events, “some armed people took advantage of the atmosphere to attack citizens” and vandalised public property, which required intervention by the security forces. A number of armed individuals were killed, while six members of the security forces were martyred, including an officer.

The civilian death toll reached 35, including worshippers in the mosque who were killed in the first phase around the police station and those killed by armed persons.

Human rights organisations outside Iran have stated that the death toll of the confrontations in Zahedan was over 90.

Hundreds of people took part in demonstrations in Zahedan on 21 October.

Officials confirmed the arrest of dozens of “rioters” on the sidelines of the protests.

Sistan-Baluchestan is located in the southeast of Iran and has often witnessed frequent clashes between Iranian security forces and armed groups. Many of these confrontations are linked to smuggling attempts, and some are due to clashes with minority Baluch separatists or extremist armed groups.

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