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Iran: Fresh Clashes In Tehran

Tehran, 13 July 1999 (RFE/RL) - Several thousand students clashed with Islamic Militia and anti-riot police today in the Iranian capital Tehran in a sixth day of protests against hard-line clerics. The students gathered outside the main entrance to Tehran University, in defiance of a government ban on demonstrations, and chanted slogans in favor of Iran's reformist President Mohammad Khatami. There are reports that members of the Iranian security forces fired shots into the air and launched tear gas canisters to disperse the protestors. Agence France Press cites witnesses as saying that street battles erupted as the students clashed with members of the volunteer Islamic militias known as Basiji. There are also agency reports of clashes near the headquarters of the official IRNA news agency.

The renewed clashes came despite appeals for calm from Khatami, whose pro-reform agenda is supported by the students, and appeals from conservative Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the country's supreme leader.

Meanwhile in Paris, the International League for Human Rights has called on Iran to allow an independent inquiry to investigate the recent disturbances which began last week after police stormed a Tehran University hostel.

French Deputy Foreign Ministry spokesman Bernard Valero today said France supports Khatami's reforms. Valero said the process will be "inevitably slow and difficult."

Finally, in Denmark, Danish police report a small group of resident Iranians today staged a peaceful demonstration outside the Iranian embassy in Copenhagen in support of pro-democracy students in Iran. A police spokesman said police have granted permission to local Iranian groups -- a refugee organization, a student support committee, and a group of academics -- to demonstrate outside the embassy for four hours every day until next Monday.