The Iranian capital erupted in massive and fiery morning-to-dusk protests as tens of thousands of demonstrators clashed with security forces on the occasion of an important Shiite Muslim holiday.Also, lots of videos at Jawa Report, "This Will Be a Day Long Remembered," and IranNewsNow, "Live-blog: Ashura in Iran – December 27, 2009":
Several witnesses told The Times that Iranian security forces opened fire with live ammunition against unarmed protesters near College Bridge in in the capital. And opposition news websites reported that several protesters had been killed, including Ali Mousavi, the adult nephew of opposition figurehead Mir-Hossein Mousavi.
Reformist websites said he was shot and taken to a Tehran hospital, where his uncle and other relatives soon arrived.
The information could not be independently confirmed, and a police source denied that protesters had been killed in a comment to the pro-government Fars News Agency.
But a witness in front of City Theater in downtown Tehran said she saw a fallen man, apparently stabbed in the back, and spotted another man falling to the ground after a volley of shots was fired near Enghelab Street, which emerged as the epicenter of the day's clashes.
The reports of deaths came during a harrowing day of multiple, rolling clashes between police and Iranian protesters coinciding with an important Ashura religious commemoration as well as the significant seventh day of mourning following the death of the country's leading dissident cleric, Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri.
Reformist websites and witnesses also reported clashes in the cities of Qom, Esfahan, Najafabad, Kashan, Shiraz, Babol and Mashhad.
Demonstrators vowed to continue the protests into the night, with reformist news websites identifying key Tehran squares for gatherings.
"There is no let-up," said Farzad, a 30-year-old who attended today's protests with his girlfriend. "We will go ahead until we topple the government."
Across the capital, witnesses described scenes of pandemonium, which were confirmed by video footage posted online. One described Tehran as a war zone, and another likened the situation to open "civil war" as increasingly bold demonstrators took on security forces, in one case stripping a member of the security forces naked before letting him go, a witness said.
Despite a heavy crackdown, the protest movement that emerged from Iran's disputed June 12 presidential election has grown increasingly daring, with those who want abolition of the Islamic Republic increasingly vocal.
Protesters had vowed for weeks to turn today's annual Ashura commemoration marking the 7th century martyrdom of Imam Hossein into an anti-government demonstration.
And from the Guardian's report:The authorities are taking a risk in using lethal force against protesters during the Islamic Moharram, during which war and bloodshed is deemed to be religiously haram, or forbidden. It raises the likelihood of a series of mourning cycles, as required by Shia tradition. It was such a mourning cycle that fatally undermined the Shah's regime when it tried to suppress demonstrations in 1978.