Some of the wounded tried to crawl away to escape the gunfire. Others bled to death on prayer mats as people tried to drag them to safety.
But the snipers and officers kept pulling their triggers, firing bullet after bullet into men and young boys at a worship area where Friday Prayer had been underway.
The horrific scene unfolded on Sept. 30 in Zahedan, a city in southeastern Iran that is home to the ethnic Baluch minority, after a small group of worshipers emerged from the Great Mosalla prayer complex to confront security forces posted at a police station across the street.
The protesters chanted antigovernment slogans and threw rocks at the officers, prompting the security forces to fire indiscriminately into the crowd, according to witnesses. As the demonstrators scattered, the gunshots stalked their retreat back toward the complex, where thousands were still praying.
“It was a massacre I had only seen in movies,” said Jamshid, 28, a worshiper, who was reached by phone and identified himself only by his first name to avoid reprisals. “They started shooting as people still had their heads bowed in prayer.” Young men threw themselves in front of children and older people to shield them from the bullets, Jamshid said. “People had nowhere to go.”
The massacre, called “Bloody Friday” by residents, represents the most lethal government action since a crackdown began against nationwide demonstrations a month ago. Sixty-six to 96 people were killed over the course of the next several hours, according to local and international human rights groups, including Amnesty International. [Continue reading…]