Iran Anticipating Further Street Unrest in Wake of Airliner Shootdown
Iran deployed security forces in large numbers around the capital Tehran on Sunday in anticipation of possible anti-government protests following its delayed admission that a ground-to-air missile brought down a Kiev-bound airliner on Wednesday, killing all 176 aboard. On Saturday, the Islamic Republic owned up to having brought down the Ukrainian International Airlines 737 with at least one ground-to-air missile – albeit by mistake – following three days of official denials, having initially insisted that human error or a malfunction on board had been the cause of the crash shortly after takeoff from Tehran’s international airport. On Saturday night, students gathered on the campus of a university in the capital to memorialize the victims, most of them Iranians or Iranian expatriates. Police dispersed them when the students began chanting what were termed “radical” slogans, apparently against the government. Iran experienced days of widespread protests in November over a steep price hike for gasoline, with rights groups saying the death toll may have gone over 1,000.