Iranian forces 'shoot at protesters' after arrests made over headscarf protests

The protests in Iran show no sign of ending, and neither does the brutality of the government's forces, ITV News Correspondent Neil Connery reports

Iranian security forces have opened fire on protesters the day after two Iranian actresses were arrested after publicly removing their headscarves in support of the two-month-long protests against the country's Islamic regime, according to state media.

Heavy gunfire was used against protesters in a Kurdish town in the country's west on Monday, killing at least five during an anti-government protest that erupted at the funeral of two people killed the day before, activists said.Funerals have often been the scene of renewed protests in recent weeks, as they were during the 1979 Islamic Revolution that brought the clerics to power. The latest demonstrations mark the biggest challenge to the theocracy in over a decade.

At least 426 people have been killed and more than 17,400 arrested, according to Human Rights Activists in Iran, a group monitoring the unrest. It says at least 55 members of the security forces have been killed.

On Sunday, Hengameh Ghaziani and Katayoun Riahi were arrested within an hour of each other "by the order of the Tehran general and revolutionary prosecutor's office," Irna news agency said.

According to the report, Ms Ghaziani and Ms Riahi are accused of colluding with the intention of acting against the country's security and propaganda against the Iranian regime.

Both women are high-profile and multi-awarding winning actresses.

Before her arrest, Ms Ghaziani had posted a video on Instagram to her 2.2 million followers of herself with no headscarf, pulling back her hair into a ponytail.

In the accompanying caption, Ms Ghaziani wrote: "Maybe this will be my last post. From this moment on, whatever happens to me, know that as always, I am with Iranian people until my last breath."

In an Instagram post in September, Katayoun Riahi wrote alongside an image of her wearing no hijab: "Mourning the women of Iran."The nationwide protests were sparked by the death Mahsa Amini, 22, who was arrested by morality police in Tehran for alleging breaching the country's strict headscarf rules.

Mahsa Amini died in custody in Iran Credit: Francisco Seco/AP

Ms Amini died on 16 September, three days after she was detained.

Women across Iran publicly removed their headscarves in public in protest and solidarity in the days after her death.

The protests - which the regime call riots - have grown into anti-government demonstrations, and have become a real test for Tehran's theocratic regime that has ruled since the Islamic Revolution in 1979.

The police deny Mahsa was mistreated and say she died of a heart attack.

Mahsa's family says she had no history of heart trouble and that they were prevented from seeing her body before she was buried.

The demonstrations erupted after her funeral in the Kurdish city of Saqez, and quickly spread to other parts of the country, including Tehran.

Demonstrations have followed globally in the subsequent months. Protesters and human rights groups have since accused Iran's regime of responsibility for more Iran protesters' deaths.

Last week, Iran issued its first death sentence over anti-government protests, state media reported.

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