Three Iranian police officers killed in clashes with Sufi protesters
Three police officers were killed in Tehran on Monday, a police spokesman said, as clashes broke out with members of a Muslim religious order seen as a threat to the Iranian theocratic establishment.
"Some disruptors of security and order used a bus today and killed three police officers. The murderers were arrested seconds after their crime," police spokesman Saeed Montazer al-Mahdi said on state television.
Video footage posted on social media on Monday evening showed clashes between security forces and members of the Gonabadi Dervishes, an order following the mystical Sufi strain of Islam. They had gathered in front of a police station, demanding the release of some members of their sect.
A video showed a white bus ploughing through a group of around 40 riot police officers in a narrow street. The bus also struck several parked cars as it tried to escape the scene. The video's authenticity could not be verified.
Fars news agency reported that the driver was a member of the Sufi sect. It also said several police officers and pedestrians had been injured.
Other social media videos showed police firing tear gas to disperse Dervishes and other demonstrators. There were photos of injured demonstrators, with their faces covered in blood.
According to Majzooban, a website linked to the Gonabadi Sufis, some protesters were shot by the police. The website also reported that some injured protesters had been arrested while in hospitals.
The late UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Iran voiced concern in 2017 about the "targeting and harsh treatment" of members of various Sufi groups, including the Gonabadi order and the Yarsan, also known Ahl-e Haqq.