Iran said on Tuesday it had arrested people accused of a role in shooting down a Ukrainian airliner and had also detained 30 people involved in protests that have swept the nation since the military belatedly admitted its error.
Wednesday’s shooting down of Ukraine International Airlines flight 752, killing all 176 people aboard, has led to one of the biggest public challenges to Iran’s clerical rulers since they took power in the 1979 Islamic revolution.
In a step that would increase diplomatic pressure, Britain, France, and Germany launched a dispute mechanism to challenge Iran for breaching limits on its nuclear program under an agreement that Washington abandoned in 2018.
In the 10 days since the United States killed Iran’s most powerful military commander in a drone strike, Tehran has faced escalating confrontation with the West and unrest at home, both reaching levels with little precedent in its modern history.
It shot down the airliner on Wednesday during a period of high alert, hours after it had fired missiles at US targets in Iraq. After days of denying a role in the crash, it admitted it on Saturday, calling it a tragic mistake.
Protesters, many of them students, have since held daily demonstrations chanting “Clerics get lost!” and called for the removal of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in power for more than 30 years.
Police have responded to some protests with a violent crackdown, video posts on social media showed. Footage showed police beating protesters with batons, wounded people being carried, pools of blood on the streets and the sound of gunfire.
Iran’s police denied firing at protesters. The judiciary said 30 people had been detained in the unrest but said the authorities would show tolerance toward “legal protests”.
The full extent of the unrest is difficult to assess because of limits on independent reporting.