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Thousands of Protesters Clash with Police in Tehran


Iranian riot police in large numbers have clashed with thousands of protesters in the capital, Tehran. Witnesses tell VOA's Persian News Network that police have used tear gas, batons and water cannon in an effort to disperse thousands of demonstrators trying to stage protests against the results from the June 12 presidential election. There are unconfirmed reports of injuries.

Iranian government TV confirmed some incidents Saturday, saying police clashed with what it called "rioters" who were trying to stage, what it called , "illegal protests" against presidential election results which gave a landslide victory to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Witnesses speaking to VOA Persian News Network and other news agencies say thousands of residents were in the streets in defiance of warnings by the government.

Witnesses also report a heavy police presence, particularly around two Tehran squares where previous protests were held.

Independent media coverage restricted

Iran has severely restricted independent media coverage and video and audio coming into VOA from varied sources cannot be independently verified.

In a separate incident, Iranian state media reported Saturday that a suspected suicide bomber exploded near a shrine to the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of the country's Islamic revolution, with at least two people hurt.

National Security Council issues warning

Earlier Saturday, Iran's National Security Council warned defeated presidential candidate Mir Hussein Mousavi not to hold any further public demonstrations or that he would be held "responsible for the consequences."

Saturday's street protests come a day after Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, demanded that the opposition put a stop to six days of massive street protests by tens of thousands of supporters who accuse the government of election fraud.

Up to 10 percent of vote to be recounted

A much anticipated session of Iran's Guardian Council, Saturday, announced, according to Iranian State TV, that it would "randomly recount up to 10 percent of the vote," from last Friday's disputed presidential election.

Incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad won the election with 63 percent of the vote according to the official count.

All three defeated candidates protested the election results, but only hardliner Mohsen Rezaei showed up for the Guardian Council meeting. Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei had urged all three opposition candidates to attend.

Bani Sadr: Iranian people fighting for sovereignty

Former Iranian President Abolhassan Bani Sadr, who was overthrown and forced into exile in 1981, says the Iranian people are now fighting for their sovereignty.

He says that Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has declared war against the people and against part of his regime, including those who ran in the election against (President Ahmedinejad), and he says now Iran has a regime that is against its people. In the end, he says, the people will win.

Khamenei said on Friday at Tehran University there was a "definite victory" by President Ahmadinejad on June 12 and said that the president's views on foreign affairs and social issues were close to his.


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