Tehran, 12 July 1999 (RFE/RL) - Iran's official Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) says police clashed with demonstrators today during two demonstrations on the fifth day of the worst unrest in Tehran since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Witnesses said riot police and Revolutionary Guards -- who have stayed away from the protests in order to avoid a confrontation -- used clubs and tear gas to disperse at least several hundred protesters in the central Val-e-Asr square. IRNA reported a police vehicle was set afire, and that several protesters were arrested.
Near Tehran University, witnesses said police used tear gas and fired shots into the air to disperse crowds at a demonstration of some 5,000 people -- including 2,000 Tehran University staffers. The protests were sparked by the closure last week of the reformist daily Salam, the passing of an anti-press bill, and heightened by an unauthorized bloody police attack Friday on a Tehran University
dormitory that left at least one dead.
President Mohammad Khatami today called on students to cooperate with the government. IRNA said Khatami praised the unanimous condemnation of violence by all officials, including supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Meanwhile, the daily Neshat reported hundreds of journalists are planning a one-day strike tomorrow to protest the closure of Salam. Neshat said more than 20 Iranian newspapers will not publish on Wednesday.