Iranian police claimed that the number of security officers killed in an overnight Sufi sect protests had risen to five, as about 300 persons were arrested.
The protest organised by the Gonabadi Sufi order, otherwise known as dervishes, turned into running clashes with the police in northern Tehran on Monday.
The security officers said a bus ploughing into a group of policemen in northern Tehran led to death of three, as State Television Footage confirmed the incident.
A Police Spokesman, Saeed Montazer Almehdi on Tuesday said two members of the hardline Basij militia, which is also linked to the Revolutionary Guards, were killed during the protest.
“Two of our dear Basijis were martyred by the superstitious cult,” He in a statement told the Semi-official ISNA news agency,
Montazer Almehdi, however, confirmed the arrest of over 300 persons, including the driver of the bus.
– What was the cause of the Protest –
The Gonabadis, one of the country’s largest Sufi sects, accuse the Iranian state of frequent harassment and discrimination.
Sufism is an accepted branch of Islam in Iran, but the practice is frowned upon by many conservative clerics. Officials and the media routinely refer to them as “deceived elements” or a cult.
Montazer Almehdi said police had struggled to talk the protesters down from the roofs of houses and that the protests had not been brought under control until late into the night.
“Thirty police officers on the scene were wounded,” he told ISNA. “A number of rioters were also wounded last night.”
A website linked to the group indicated the protests were linked to the recent arrest of members of the sect and police efforts to establish security check points near the home of their leader, Noor Ali Tabandeh.
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