Iranian prison set ablaze, gunshots and explosions reported
Iran’s notorious Evin Prison — home to political prisoners and other anti-government activists — was engulfed in flames Saturday as gunshots and explosions rang out amid nationwide protests.
A senior security official told Iranian state-run media that the “situation is completely under control” following clashes between prisoners and prison staff at the Tehran facility.
Prisoners set fire to a warehouse stocked with uniforms, which sparked the inferno, the official said.
Tehran prosecutor Ali Salhi later said that “peace” had returned to the prison, claiming the situation was not related to the larger anti-government protests that have swept the country for four weeks.
In videos circulating online, multiple gunshots can be heard as the fire rips through the prison, sending plumes of black smoke into the sky.
Other clips show people yelling “death to Khamenei” — referencing Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Witnesses reported hearing at least three large blasts from the area of the prison, which was blocked off by security officials.
Riot police were seen on motorbikes heading toward the facility, which was surrounded by fire trucks and ambulances.
It’s not clear if anyone has been injured.
At least 233 protesters have been killed across Iran since Sept. 17, according to U.S.-based rights monitor HRANA. The group said 32 of the dead were under 18-years-old. Earlier, Oslo-based Iran Human Rights estimated 201 people had been killed.
The protests erupted after 22-year-old Mahsa Amini died in police custody while in custody on an arrest by Iran’s morality police for violating state dress code. The government has insisted Amini was not mistreated in police custody, however her body appeared bruised and beaten, according to Amini’s family.
Amini’s death sparked widespread public outrage that has spilled into city streets in the largest challenge to the Islamic Republic’s government since 2009.
The government’s response to the protests has been harsh, including mass arrests and the use tear gas, sound bombs and live ammunition to disperse demonstrators.
Evin Prison has a history of human rights abuses and holding Western political prisoners to use as bargaining chips in international negotiations.
Human Rights Watch has accused prison officials of threatening inmates with torture and indefinite imprisonment, among other abuses.
The prison was sanctioned by the United States in 2018.
“Prisoners held at Evin Prison are subject to brutal tactics inflicted by prison authorities, including sexual assaults, physical assaults and electric shock,” the U.S. Treasury Department wrote in a statement after announcing the sanctions in 2018.
With Post Wires