Iranian police have said they did not shoot live ammunition against Tehran protesters after videos purportedly showing the shooting emerged online. Police chief Hossein Rahimi said that the police "absolutely did not shoot" the protesters. "At protests, police absolutely did not shoot because the capital's police officers have been given orders to show restraint," Rahimi in a statement carried by the state broadcaster's website.
Tehran protests became chaotic after the protesters demanded the removal of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei following the shooting down of the Ukraine passenger plane last week. Videos purportedly showed the police shooting at the protesters who thronged the Freedom Square in Tehran. Videos that emerged online on Monday showed a blood trail as a woman was carried away from the protest site. People are heard shouting that she was shot in the leg by the police. Other videos showed tear gas shells being used against the protesters.
Don't kill your protesters, says Trump
US President Donald Trump, tweeting in Farsi, had warned Tehran not to attack the protesters. Some analysts interpret the use of live ammunition on the protesters by Iranian police as an act of defiance against the US. The videos showing the police shooting were received by the New York-based Center for Human Rights in Iran and verified by the Associated Press.
While one video shows the demonstrators fleeing after a tear gas canister lands among them, another video shows a blood trail even as a woman being is carried away from the protest site. "Oh my God, she's bleeding nonstop!" a person is heard shouting in the video. Other photos from the Azadi Square showed pools of blood on the sidewalk, Fox News reported.
Trump, who told Iran not to kill the protesters, also made it clear that Washington is not interested in forcing a regime change in Iran. However, political analysts have said the spontaneous protests in the aftermath of the admission of guilt by Iran showed that the regime's authority has been severely challenged.
Iran admits shooting down of Ukraine plane
Iran shot down the Ukraine International Airlines plane carrying 176 people on Wednesday, following its attack on US military bases in Iraq. The plane crash was initially blamed on technical snag but doubts had emerged soon that Iranian defence forces might have shot down the plane. Three days later Iran admitted it accidentally shot down the plane, triggering the protests.
Iranian defence forces were in a heightened state of alert after Iran launched more than 15 ballistic missiles into two military bases housing American troops in Iran. The missile attack was in retaliation for the killing of the Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani in a drone attack at the Baghdad airport. The Iranian air defence mistook the passenger plane for a projectile sent by the US and shot it down, killing all on board.