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At Least 6 Killed In Clashes Between Security Forces And Sufi Dervishes In Tehran

Iranian Police and security forces clash with members of Dervishes, a Sufi Muslim religious community. Tehran, February 19, 2018

A demonstration by dervishes protesting against the arrest of one of them has led to violent clashes with the police, resulting in deaths and injuries.

Three policemen are reported dead and in addition a senior commander of Iran Basij militia force says two members of this force have also been killed in the clashes and at least one protester is dead.

A video clip posted on social media, shows a bus ramming into riot police. The attack reportedly killed the three riot policemen.

Video: Bus Rams Into Riot Police
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Another video posted shortly afterwards, shows a sedan ploughing through the security forces. This attack reportedly left one basiji dead.

Car Ploughs Through Iran Riot Police Forces
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Meanwhile, the officials say both drivers were arrested "minutes after the attacks".

At least 300 protesters are confirmed arrested by the authorities.

Furthermore, Gonabadi dervishes say at least one of their members was killed under torture by the security forces. In one video protesters are heard addressing the security forces saying they never wanted to fight them but they were left no choice.

Latest reports from Tehran speak of a tense situation, with hundreds of riot police and security forces patrolling the area where clashes took place.

Members of Gonabadi order had already warned that the residence of their leader, Dr. Nour Ali Tabandeh was their "red line" and they would not tolerate any trespassing.

The gathering in front of Police Precinct 102 in north Tehran on February 19 was a protest move by members of the Gonabadi order of Iranian dervishes, after one of its members, Nematollah Riahi was arrested by the security police and detained at the precinct.

Riahi, 72, is from the city of Shahr-e Kord near Isfahan, and had come to Tehran to defend the house of the leader of the Gonabadi order against a probable attack by the police and plain-cloths vigilante groups.

Kasra Nouri, one of the dervishes taking part in the gathering told Radio Farda, “Some 100 policemen attacked the dervishes and shot at them. We are worried about our security in the area, while we are defending our leader, Dr. Nour Ali Tabandeh. Our resolve is to defend him up to the last drop of our blood.”

Tabandeh’s house is located in Tehran’s Passdaran Avenue, which was the site of clashes between the police and the dervishes twice before, in late December 2017 and early January.

The dervishes had said in previous instances that the police was about to arrest Tabandeh. The police rejected the claim.

The dervishes say that Monday’s clashes started with the police’s provocation, but Saeed Montazerolmahdi, a spokesman for the police told Iranian state TV that three policemen were killed in the clashes.

“Three policemen are dead, and those who murdered them are under arrest,” he said.

According to Fars News Agency, “an angry dervish bus driver ran over a group of policemen and created a carnage.”

“The bus, damaged several vehicles and injured several people who happened to be in the area at the time, “Fars added.

Fars quoted “informed sources” as saying that the bus driver, Yavar Mohammad Salas, is a Gonabadi dervish,” adding that “the bus belongs to one of the leaders of the dervishes.”

Iranian Labor News Agency (ILNA) reported that seven other policemen have been injured in the incident and have been taken to hospital.

In an interview with Radio Farda, Kasra Nouri denied the dervishes involvement in the death of the three policemen.

“The bus was parked there, and then started to move, and the dervishes had nothing to do with the accident,” he added.

Nouri further added that the police had promised not to arrest the dervishes, and to release Riahi, but they did not stand by their promise.

The Gonabadi dervishes belong to the Sufi order known as “Nematollahi Sultan Ali Shahi” that believes in the principles and teachings of the 12-Imamite Shi’i Islam.

Nevertheless, the Islamic Republic of Iran has been seriously suppressing the Sufi order for some of their other beliefs.