Iran disperses angry crowd after building collapse kills 29


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Iranian riot police fired tear gas and shot into the air to disperse an angry crowd of hundreds near the site of a building collapse in the southwestern city of Abadan , showed an online video analyzed on Saturday.

A report by Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency also acknowledged unrest on Friday night over this week’s disaster which has killed at least 29 people, with others still buried under the rubble of the building in 10 floors. It comes as Iran suffers worsening economic conditions under crushing US sanctions over its nuclear program, fueling concern in the Islamic Republic of renewed widespread unrest.

Meanwhile, the country has faced both targeted killings and other violence this week through Saturday, even as its paramilitary Revolutionary Guards seized two Greek oil tankers apparently over Athens , allowing America to seize Iranian oil in the Mediterranean Sea.

Videos shared online showed a massive crowd of hundreds of people near the Metropol building on Friday evening, with lights shining on its facade. A second video showed protesters at street level chanting, “Our enemy is here; they lie saying it’s America!” A third showed an angry mob with a gunshot heard. The person filming turned around and ran shouting, “Don’t shoot! Don’t shoot!”

In this photo released by the official website of the Office of Iran’s First Vice President, Friday, May 27, 2022, Vice President Mohammad Mokhber, second from right, visits the site of a tower under construction at the 10-story Metropol building which collapsed in the city of Abadan in southwestern Iran on Monday. Rescue teams at the site of the tower pulled five more bodies from the rubble on Friday, bringing the death toll from the disaster to 24.
(Office of Iran’s senior vice president via AP)

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Details in the videos matched each other and known features in Abadan, some 660 kilometers (410 miles) southwest of the capital, Tehran. Foreign TV channels in Farsi described tear gas and other gunshots.

Fars described the situation as a riot that forced police to intervene. It was not immediately clear if anyone was injured or if police made any arrests.

In other towns, people gathered peacefully to mourn, Fars and human rights activists reported. However, angry crowds have gathered in Abadan since Iran held a rally of 100,000 people on Thursday to mark the release of a new state-backed pop song called “Hello Commander”.

On Friday, protesters in Abadan shouted: “In Tehran, there is marriage; Abadan is bleeding!”

Authorities acknowledge that the building’s owner and corrupt government officials allowed construction of the Metropol building to continue despite concerns about its poor build quality. The building collapsed on Monday. Authorities have arrested 13 people as part of an extensive investigation into the disaster, including the town’s mayor.

In this photo released Saturday, May 28, 2022 by the Iranian military website, Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces General Mohammad Hossein Bagheri, left, and Army Commander General Abdolrahim Mousavi, chat while visiting an underground drone army base tunnel in the heart of the country's Western Zagros Mountains.  The Iranian state television report said on Saturday May 29 that the tunnel was about 100 meters (330 feet) underground and housed the Kaman-22 and Fotros drones, both capable of carrying cruise missiles.

In this photo released Saturday, May 28, 2022 by the Iranian military website, Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces General Mohammad Hossein Bagheri, left, and Army Commander General Abdolrahim Mousavi, chat while visiting an underground drone army base tunnel in the heart of the country’s Western Zagros Mountains. The Iranian state television report said on Saturday May 29 that the tunnel was about 100 meters (330 feet) underground and housed the Kaman-22 and Fotros drones, both capable of carrying cruise missiles.
(Iranian Army via AP)

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Rescue teams pulled three more bodies from the rubble on Saturday, bringing the death toll in the collapse to 29.

The deadly collapse has raised questions about the safety of similar buildings around the country and underscored an ongoing crisis in Iranian construction projects. The collapse reminded many of the 2017 fire and collapse of the iconic Plasco building in Tehran that killed 26 people.

Meanwhile, violence continued elsewhere in the country. Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency said gunmen shot dead two policemen and a civilian in downtown Tehran on Saturday. He said one officer was in critical condition. Authorities offered no cause.

Separately, the semi-official ISNA news agency said a gunman shot dead a senior police officer, Major Abbas Raah Anjam, in Iran’s restive Sistan and Balochistan province. The attack also injured his wife, ISNA said.

Gun violence is rare in Iran, where strict controls govern who can own a gun.

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Earlier this month, a senior member of Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guards, Colonel Hassan Sayyad Khodaei, was shot dead outside his home in Tehran by unidentified gunmen on motorbikes. Iran blamed Israel for the shooting, which mirrors other attacks by its intelligence service and allies.

Also on Saturday, amid regional tensions, Iranian state television broadcast footage of what it described as a “top secret” underground tunnel in the heart of the country’s western Zagros Mountains. He said the tunnel was about 100 meters (330 feet) underground and housed the Kaman-22 and Fotros drones, both capable of carrying cruise missiles.


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