Angry protests against the Iranian regime in the wake of the shooting down of a passenger jet reportedly were met with a violent response.
Witnesses say police opened fire to disperse the crowds with live ammunition, rubber bullets, and tear gas, The Guardian reported.
After several days delay, the Iranian regime somewhat surprisingly acknowledged its responsibility for “unintentionally” shooting down a passenger jet near Tehran — prompting protests in the capital city and around the country by Iranians outraged that they had been lied to about the cause of the crash. All 176 people on board were killed; about half were Iranian citizens.
Live ammunition used against protesters?
The reports of live ammunition being used against protesters come via eyewitness accounts and photos and videos posted to social media in the immediate aftermath.
One video, which according to the New York Post was obtained by the Center for Human Rights in Iran and confirmed as authentic by The Associated Press, showed protesters scrambling to escape tear gas amid a cacophony of intermittent gunshots and screams and shouts from the protesters.
The video also showed at least two women who appeared to have suffered gunshot wounds. Blood can be seen on the road and sidewalks. Watch:
Iran denies use of live ammunition
There is no doubt that the police used excessive amounts of tear gas against the crowds and, according to The Guardian, the only real question that remains is how much of the gunfire aimed at the protesters was actually live ammunition or simply hard rubber bullets, which while considered non-lethal, can cause pain, injury and even draw blood.
The Iranian regime denied using live ammunition against the crowds of protesters, as expected.
NPR reported that Tehran Police Chief Hossein Rahimi told the media, “Police treated people who had gathered with patience and tolerance,” and added, “Police did not shoot in the gatherings since broad-mindedness and restraint has been the agenda of the police forces of the capital.”
Trump warns Iran
Meanwhile, the reports of a violent response to the anti-regime protests across Iran came little more than a day after President Donald Trump explicitly warned the regime to refrain from doing so.
Trump tweeted, both in English and in Farsi, “To the leaders of Iran – DO NOT KILL YOUR PROTESTERS. Thousands have already been killed or imprisoned by you, and the World is watching. More importantly, the USA is watching. Turn your internet back on and let reporters roam free! Stop the killing of your great Iranian people!”
It remains unclear at this time how many protesters were wounded by the alleged live ammunition used by the Iranian riot police or if anyone actually died after being shot, either by real bullets or rubber bullets. Save for difficult to verify reports circulating on social media, we may never know for sure.