Rebel Group Says Iranian City Under Martial Law After Riots
NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) _ Martial law was imposed Friday on an Iranian city after two days of anti- government riots killed at least four people and destroyed scores of government buildings, an opposition group said.
The Mujahedeen Khalq, the dominant movement seeking to topple the fundamentalist Muslim regime in Tehran, said 70 people were wounded in clashes with security forces in the northwestern city of Qazvin and hundreds were arrested.
Mujahedeen spokesman Ali Safavi said the city of 750,000 located 80 miles northwest of Tehran was tense Friday as a major operation to clear up burned- out cars, debris and wrecked buildings got underway.
″There’s complete martial law in Qazvin, with a very heavy presence of security forces throughout the city,″ Safavi said by telephone from the Mujahedeen’s office in Paris.
The report couldn’t be independently confirmed.
The violence in Qazvin began Wednesday after Parliament rejected a demand that the city be allowed to split from impoverished Zanjan province and become a separate administrative region.
It intensified Thursday and the government sent in thousands of shock troops to contain the rioting, according to reports by the Mujahedeen.
The government backed down Thursday and announced Qazvin would be permitted to join Tehran province. The unusual concession underscored government fears the unrest could spread throughout the economically depressed country.
Qazvin is one of Iran’s most fertile agricultural regions and one of the most industrialized, and many people there have clamored for reforms that would let them retain a greater share of the money they put into government.
Tehran province, the seat of the capital, gets more government money than any other region and becoming part of it will no doubt improve Qazvin’s economy.
In the first official account of the violence, the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency said Friday that 20 people were arrested after a ″looting spree″ that destroyed 12 shops, four banks and a number of public buildings.
The agency, monitored in Cyprus, said at least five people were injured.