Iran’s Evin prison has been set on fire after clashes between inmates and guards

Iran’s notorious Evin prison, which houses protesters arrested amid widespread protests and political prisoners, was torched after inmates clashed with security forces, the country’s official media reported.

IRNA quoted an unidentified security official as saying a fight broke out in one department, leading to clashes with prison guards.

“Rogues and thugs set fire to the warehouse containing prisoners’ clothing, causing a fire in Evin prison,” the official said. “The situation is now thoroughly under control and there is calm in the prison while firefighters sit [out] the fire.”

IRNA said eight prisoners were injured but there were no fatalities. Videos and images shared by local media showed fire and smoke billowing from the prison. Foreigners, including Americans and Europeans, are also held at Evin. At least nine foreigners were arrested during the protests, authorities said.

The incident came as the Islamic Republic grappled with one of the largest and most protracted protests in its 43-year history.

The trigger for the nationwide demonstrations was the death of the 22-year-old Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini on September 16 after her arrest by the vice squad for alleged disregard of the Islamic code. Many Iranians were outraged and accused the security forces of beating them. The Iranian authorities insist that she was not punished and died due to previous illnesses.

Anti-regime protests continued on the streets and at universities in Tehran and other cities on Saturday. In the capital, security was tight around campuses, including Tehran University, where students chanted “Death to the Dictator,” eyewitnesses said.

The elite Revolutionary Guards deployed their special anti-riot forces outside the university, the first time they have been seen in Tehran. Until now, security operations have been mainly carried out by police and plainclothes guards. But Iranian officials have vowed to stamp out the protests, which they blame on the regime’s enemies, including the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia.

State television has confirmed that more than 40 protesters have died, but Amnesty International estimates the death toll at at least 144, including 23 children.

While demonstrations have appeared to be waning in recent days compared to a week ago, analysts warn that more killings could escalate the unrest.

Reports that a teenage schoolgirl was killed in the northwestern city of Ardabil last week have sparked renewed anger. Authorities have denied the reports.

But Ali Daei, a former football star from the region, said the silence over the protests has led to further violence, including the girl’s death in Ardabil.

“This silence comes at a cost [more] deaths and every day there’s a new loss,” he said in a post on Instagram on Saturday. Iran’s Evin prison has been set on fire after clashes between inmates and guards

Adam Bradshaw

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