An Iranian security agency took its first official tally of the ongoing unrest across the country, saying more than 200 people have been killed since September.
In a statement issued on Saturday, the Iranian Interior Ministry’s National Security Council released its first death toll, which it said was caused by “riots”.
The agency said the dead included members of the security forces, people killed in “terrorist activities”, people killed by foreign groups and falsely accused of killing for their country, “thugs” and “armed counter-revolutionaries belonging to separatist groups”.
The security agency also mentioned “innocent people who died in the security chaos”, but did not say how they were killed.
A few days ago, Amir Ali Hajizad, a senior general of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, said that more than 300 people had been “sacrificed and killed” in the riots.
However, these figures are lower than those provided by some foreign rights groups, which put the death toll at more than 400.
On September 16, a 22-year-old woman, Masha Amini, died after being arrested by the country’s “morality police” in Tehran for allegedly failing to comply with the mandatory dress code. Soon, protests broke out across Iran.
Iranian authorities have accused the United States, Israel, Britain and Saudi Arabia of being behind the unrest in the country.
The security agency statement on Saturday also highlighted the role of foreign interference in the protests, saying the country had been dealing with a “hybrid war” waged by hostile states and “terrorist” media groups.
“What people are seeing today is not civil protest, but the destruction, violence and insecurity caused by a few riots,” the agency said.
The United Nations has called on Iranian authorities to refrain from “disproportionate use of force” against the protests. In addition, it has called for the release of some political prisoners, while opposing those death sentences linked to the protests.
Last month, the UN Human Rights Council voted to launch a fact-finding mission to investigate the protests. Tehran denounced it as a “political” effort and said it would not cooperate with it.