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Iranian interior minister says unrest has fizzled out

Iran's Interior Minister Abdolvahed Moussavi Lari speaking in the city of Qazvin south of Tehran on Monday said several days of unrest in Tehran and some other cities had subsided in the wake of measures taken by the country's security and intelligence officials, IRNA reported.

Those behind the riots have been identified and turned over to judiciary officials who, he said, have assured to deal with the rioters according to the law.

"We were faced with two groups during the unrest: the first group included those who did not observe the Islamic Republic's boundaries and criteria and were inspired by foreign media to carry out destructive activities.

"The second group included vigilantes and irresponsible elements who acted without taking into account the country's interests," the cleric said.

"State officials are resolved to confront both groups," Lari added.

The riots followed a peaceful gathering of students in protest to perceived privatization of state universities, which officials have rejected, and took an ugly turn when vigilantes attacked students.

On Monday, government spokesman Abdollah Ramezanzadeh flayed vigilantes for 'crimes' committed during their recent raid of a university hostel west of Tehran, but said Iran had banned further demonstrations outside universities.

He told reporters that he hoped the judiciary would "legally deal with all those who disrupted the public peace and security during recent riots".

Asked whether the government would allow students to take out protest rallies during next month's anniversary of July 9, 1999 unrest, he said that any protest outside universities was banned.

He, however, stated that "the government will not interfere in any gathering held inside universities".

A peaceful gathering at the Tehran University campus, held in protest to a court's banning of a newspaper in July 1999, degenerated into several days of clashes after vigilantes attacked students.

Press has said plain-clothes vigilantes had recently attacked a university dormitory in Tarasht, west of Tehran, and violently beaten up students, in addition to destroying their personal belonging.

According to Ramezanzadeh, police have arrested 470 people, including an unspecified number of vigilantes, in connection with recent unrest in Tehran and several other cities.

President Mohammad Khatami has pledged that the Iranian government would not tolerate vigilante groups, but he has defended police for confronting rioters.

... Payvand News - 6/24/03 ... --

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