Iran protests: family of boy, 9, killed in night of violence blame attack on security forces

Kian Pirfalak was one of several people killed on Wednesday as anger over Mahsa Amini transforms into wider protest against the regime

The family of a nine-year-old boy killed on Wednesday evening by assailants on motorbikes during some of the worst violence in Iran in two months of protests have accused security forces of carrying out the attack.

Kian Pirfalak was one of seven people, including a woman and a 13-year-old child, killed by gunmen in the western city of Izeh.

Authorities blamed the deaths on “terrorists” who “took advantage of a gathering of protesters … to open fire on people and security officers”, according to a report by the official IRNA news agency.

IRNA said eight people were wounded, including three police and two members of the Basij paramilitary force, which is linked to the Islamic Revolutionary Guards.

But in an audio recording tweeted by Radio Farda, a US-funded Persian station based in Prague, a man identifying himself as a family member said security forces were responsible for Kian’s death. “He was going home with his father and was targeted with bullets by the corrupt regime of the Islamic republic. Their car was attacked from all four sides,” the man is heard saying in the recording. A similar allegation was made on Instagram.

The boy’s body was reportedly taken to the family home covered in ice because family members feared if he was sent to the morgue it would be taken by the security forces, as has happened in numerous other cases.

Protesters said members of the Basij paramilitary force were running amok in the city on Wednesday.

Kian Pirfalak.
Kian Pirfalak. Photograph: Twitter

Ali Karimi, an Iranian footballer and supporter of the protesters who lives in the United Arab Emirates, wrote on social media: “Kian! We will take back Iran!” Kataneh Afshar Nejad, an Iranian actor, posted footage of herself on Instagram without a hijab condemning Pirfalak’s death.

In a separate attack hours later in Isfahan, two assailants on a motorcycle fired automatic weapons at members of the Basij, killing two and wounding two others, the Fars news agency said.

Protests over the death in custody of Mahsa Amini on 16 September have intensified this week, on the third anniversary of a bloody crackdown on unrest over fuel price hikes. The unrest has been fanned by fury over the brutal enforcement of the mandatory hijab law, but has grown into a broad movement against the theocracy that has ruled Iran since 1979.


On Thursday one protester was killed in Bukan and two in Sanandaj, where mourners were paying tribute to “four victims of the popular resistance” 40 days after they were killed, the Oslo-based Hengaw rights group said.

Footage from Sanandaj on Thursday showed protesters marching down a street filled with bonfires and chanting “death to the dictator”. IRNA reported that a police colonel called Hassan Youssefi had been killed after being stabbed repeatedly in the city.

Late on Wednesday Hengaw had said security forces were accused of killing at least 10 people within a 24-hour period during protests in the cities of Bukan, Kamyaran, Sanandaj and Amini’s home town of Saqez.

Three days of renewed violence had begun on Tuesday when security forces opened fire on people at a metro station in Tehran.

In a sign that the regime could be preparing the ground for an uptick in repression, official news agencies said Wednesday night’s deaths might be evidence that the protests were turning into an “armed insurrection”. An investigation of the bullets in the bodies of those shot dead is to be held and there is now likely to be a massive propaganda battle in which authorities will argue the protests are the seedbed for what it calls the “Syrianisation” of Iran and a collapse of public order.

As well as the protests, shopkeepers and others have gone on strike in Iran, and videos posted on social media on Wednesday showed shops closed in Tehran’s Grand Bazaar as protesters chanted anti-government slogans. The state claims there is no enthusiasm for the strikes and that organised gangs have been harassing hard-pressed business owners into pulling down their shutters.


The regime’s difficulty, acknowledged by many reformist politicians and academics inside Iran, is that many protesters have long ago stopped taking their news from what they regard as utterly discredited official sources, and instead rely either on internal social media or international Farsi-speaking satellite broadcast channels and websites, such as BBC Persian or Iran International.

At least five protesters have now been officially sentenced to death, according to the media centre for the judiciary, one for allegedly setting fire to a government building.

Speaking at the G20 meeting in Indonesia on Wednesday, the French president, Emmanuel Macron, likened recent events in Iran to a revolution.

“Something that has changed [on the ground in Iran] is this revolution of women, young people of Iran, defending universal values like gender equality,” he said. “It’s important to commend the courage and legitimacy of this fight.”

The west appears to be rethinking its entire strategy towards Iran, something Iran’s political establishment is only starting to realise. The internal protests, and evidence that Iran has been supplying Russia with drones to help attack Ukraine, has left advocates of a revival of the nuclear deal struggling for political footing. So far criticism within Iran of the decision to take Russia’s side over Ukraine, given the inevitable wider diplomatic impact, has not been forceful enough to challenge hardliners’ grip on foreign policy.

Agence France-Presse contributed to this report


Patrick Wintour, diplomatic editor

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Iran: deaths reported as security forces open fire on protesters in Zahedan
Crowds in Mahabad also fired on during rally held after funeral of protester Ismail Mauludi

Patrick Wintour Diplomatic editor

28, Oct, 2022 @4:48 PM

Article image
Iran sends police to end Mahsa Amini protests as reports say seven killed
Internet blackouts and Instagram blocks also reported amid anger after 22-year-old woman’s death in custody

Patrick Wintour in New York

21, Sep, 2022 @2:16 PM

Article image
Iran to investigate death of schoolgirl in early days of protests
Authorities respond to growing outrage over death of Nika Shakrami, but continue violent crackdown

Emma Graham-Harrison

05, Oct, 2022 @7:21 PM

Article image
Parents of Iranian woman killed during protests ‘harassed by security forces’
Forces reportedly told parents of Ghazaleh Chalabi, who died after being shot, they would withhold her body ‘if they made a noise’

Maryam Foumani and Patrick Wintour

02, Nov, 2022 @5:48 PM

Article image
Are the protests in Iran just doomed to flare and then be crushed?
Regime is again using violence in crackdown, but leaderless movement of young women has left it unsure about how to respond

Patrick Wintour Diplomatic editor

05, Oct, 2022 @1:13 PM

Article image
Iranian students defy security forces after violence at university
Rights groups ‘extremely concerned’ about violent repression of demonstrations in Tehran and Isfahan

Patrick Wintour and Haroon Janjua

03, Oct, 2022 @12:47 PM

Article image
Almost 12,500 people arrested in Iran protest crackdown, says rights group
Families struggle to contact relatives as opposition calls for movement to focus on plight of thousands in jail

Patrick Wintour Diplomatic editor

21, Oct, 2022 @2:50 PM

Article image
Iran state TV says ‘rioters’ shot and killed in last month's protests
Report is fullest admission authorities have given of violence used to stem unrest

Michael Safi in Amman

03, Dec, 2019 @9:12 AM

Article image
Iran nuclear deal: US dismisses latest move from Tehran as ‘not constructive’
US state department rejects what Iran characterised as a bid to ‘finalise the negotiations’ in latest efforts to agree a deal

Julian Borger in Washington and Patrick Wintour

02, Sep, 2022 @3:16 AM

Article image
Iran protests: deaths in custody spark human rights concerns
At least three demonstrators believed to have been killed in custody amid violent crackdown on anti-government protests

Saeed Kamali Dehghan Iran correspondent

09, Jan, 2018 @5:00 AM