TEHRAN, Iran — Protests across Iran saw their most violent night as “armed protesters” tried to overrun military bases and police stations before security forces repelled them, killing 10 people, Iranian state television said Monday.
Later in the day, Iran’s semi-official Mehr news agency said an assailant using a hunting rifle killed a policeman and wounded three other officers during a demonstration in the central city of Najafabad, about 200 miles south of Tehran.
It was the first report of a police officer dying during five days of unrest and raised the death toll to at least 13.
The demonstrations, the largest to strike Iran since its disputed 2009 presidential election, began Thursday in Mashhad over economic issues and have expanded to several cities, with some protesters chanting against the government and the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Hundreds of people have been arrested.
Iranian state television aired footage of a ransacked private bank, broken windows, overturned cars and a firetruck that appeared to have been set ablaze. It said 10 people were killed by security forces during clashes Sunday night killed.
“Some armed protesters tried to take over some police stations and military bases but faced serious resistance from security forces,” state TV said.
In a later report, state TV said killed six people were killed in the western town of Tuyserkan, 185 miles southwest of Tehran, and three in the town of Shahinshahr, 195 miles south of Tehran. It did not say where the 10th person was killed.
Earlier Monday, the semi-official ILNA news agency quoted Hedayatollah Khademi, a representative for the town of Izeh, as saying two people died there Sunday night. He said the cause of death wasn’t immediately known, though authorities later described one of the deaths as the result of a personal dispute.
Two protesters also were killed during clashes late Saturday in Doroud, some 200 miles southwest of Tehran in Lorestan province, authorities have said.
On Sunday, Iran blocked access to Instagram and the popular messaging app Telegram used by activists to organize.
President Hassan Rouhani acknowledged the public’s anger over the Islamic Republic’s flagging economy, though he and others warned that the government wouldn’t hesitate to crack down on those it considers lawbreakers.
That was echoed Monday by judiciary chief Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani, who urged authorities to confront rioters, state TV reported.
“I demand all prosecutors across the country to get involved and the approach should be strong,” he said.
Rouhani also stressed Monday that Iran “has seen many similar events and passed them easily.”
U.S. President Donald Trump, who has been tweeting in support of the protesters, continued into the New Year, describing Iran as “failing at every level despite the terrible deal made with them by the Obama Administration.”
“The great Iranian people have been repressed for many years,” he wrote. “They are hungry for food & for freedom. Along with human rights, the wealth of Iran is being looted. TIME FOR CHANGE!”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, calling the protesters “brave” and “heroic,” said in a video posted to YouTube on Monday that the protesters sought freedom, justice and “the basic liberties that have been denied to them for decades.”
He criticized the Iranian regime’s response to the protests and also chided European governments for watching “in silence” as the protests turn violent.