An Iranian opposition website said police forces were refusing orders to shoot at opposition protesters during clashes on Sunday in central Tehran, where it was reported earlier that at least four demonstrators had been killed.
"Police forces are refusing their commanders' orders to shoot at demonstrators in central Tehran ... some of them try to shoot into air when pressured by their commanders," the Jaras website said.
Meanwhile the official ISNA news agency quoted Tehran's police chief as saying reports that four protestors had been killed were false, despite pictures and videos published on opposition websites.
" Police forces are refusing their commanders' orders to shoot at demonstrators in central Tehran ... some of them try to shoot into air when pressured by their commanders "
Jaras websiteThe clashes erupted as thousands of opposition supporters staged anti-government protests during a Shiite mourning event.
"Three of our compatriots were martyred and two were injured in clashes. The (website) reporter who was on the scene said these three were directly shot at by military forces," Rahesabz.net reported.
Rahesabz said a fourth protester was later killed near Vali Asr intersection on Enghelab.
"The people are carrying the body of this martyr and are shouting slogans," it said citing eyewitnesses.
Foreign media have been banned from reporting directly from opposition demonstrations after Iran's disputed June election.
The same website earlier said security forces fired tear gas to disperse opposition supporters in downtown Tehran.
Ashura and riot police
" Three of our compatriots were martyred and two were injured in clashes. The website reporter who was on the scene said these three were directly shot at by military forces "
Rahesabz websiteThe authorities have warned the pro-reform opposition against using a two-day major Shiite Muslim religious mourning ritual on Dec. 26-27 to revive protests against the clerical establishment, six months after the election.
The Jaras website earlier said hundreds of riot police were deployed in central Tehran to prevent demonstrations planned by opposition supporters during Ashura, when Shiite Muslims commemorate the 7th century death in battle of a grandson of Prophet Muhammad.
Protesters appeared to be a mix of young and middle-aged people with many women among them. Demonstrations also broke out in the central city of Isfahan, the reformist Norooz website said late on Saturday.
Norooz said security forces in Isfahan clashed with mourners of late dissident cleric Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, who died aged 87 a week ago.
This year's Ashura coincides with the seventh day of mourning for Montazeri, a fierce critic of the hard-line clerical establishment.