At least 50 ‘rioters’ arrested in Iran for alleged links to protests

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At least 50 people were arrested in three major Iranian cities on Thursday for alleged links to the recent anti-government protests in the country, state media reported citing local authorities.

Western Tehran’s police chief Mohsen Khancharli said that 30 of the “main” individuals behind the recent “riots and unrest in Western Tehran” have been arrested.

The arrestees “engaged in sabotage” and “attacked security forces,” claimed Khancharli, adding that they have “confessed to their crimes.”

Another seven were arrested in the central province of Isfahan, the province’s police chief said.

The arrestees in Isfahan were some of the “leaders” of the “recent riots” and were arrested in a “complex” police operation, said Mehdi Masoum Beigi. Beigi added that the arrestees have “confessed.”

Another 11 were arrested in the capital of the province of Fars, the province’s police chief said.

“Nine of the main co-operators with opposing and foreign networks, and two of the main individuals involved in the unrest and the destruction of public property were arrested in Shiraz,” said Raham Bakhsh Habibi.

Like the police chiefs of western Tehran and Isfahan, Habibi also said that the arrestees “confessed” to their crimes. At the same time, it is unclear whether the arrestees have basic rights such as access to an attorney.

Iran has claimed victory of the protests, which it blames on foreign powers. The government arrested eight people “linked to the CIA,” state news agency IRNA reported late Wednesday.

The death toll from the protests is still uncertain, but opposition groups have put it in the hundreds, as Iranian security forces cracked down on demonstrators in cities across the country.

The protests were initially sparked by a rise in fuel prices, prompting the government to shutdown the internet across vast swaths of the country.