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Rafsanjani daughter arrested
- State media put death toll at 17, sound of gunfire heard in Tehran

Tehran, June 21 (Agencies): Iran’s government today said it arrested the daughter and four other relatives of former President Hashemi Rafsanjani, one of the country’s most powerful men, in a move that exposed a rift among the ruling Islamic clerics over the disputed presidential election.

State media also reported at least 10 more deaths, bringing the official toll for a week of confrontations to at least 17. State television inside Iran said 10 were killed and 100 injured in clashes yesterday between demonstrators contesting the result of the June 12 election and black-clad police wielding truncheons, tear gas and water cannons.

The police and members of the Basij militia took up positions in the afternoon on major streets and squares, including the site of yesterday’s clashes.

Gunfire rang out in Tehran late today.

“I heard repeated shootings while people were chanting Allahu Akbar in Niavaran area,” a witness said.

Another witness said he heard shootings at Zaferaniyeh district in northern Tehran. There were no immediate reports of casualties.

State-run Press TV reported that Rafsanjani’s eldest daughter, Faezeh Hashemi, and four other unidentified family members were arrested late yesterday. Today evening, it said the four others had been released but that Hashemi remained in detention.

Last week, state television showed images of Hashemi, 46, speaking to hundreds of supporters of Opposition candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi. He alleges fraud in the election, which the government said President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad won.

Ahmadinejad today accused the US and Britain of interfering in Iran’s affairs.

“I advise you (the US and Britain) to correct your interfering stances,” Ahmadinejad was quoted by ISNA news agency as saying at a meeting with clerics and scholars.

The arrests are the strongest sign yet of a serious divide among Iran’s ruling clerics.

Rafsanjani, 75, heads two powerful institutions. One of them, the cleric-run Assembly of Experts, has the power to monitor and remove the supreme leader, the country’s most powerful figure.

The second is the Expediency Council, a body that arbitrates disputes between the parliament and the unelected Guardian Council, which can block legislation.

The Assembly has never publicly reprimanded the unelected Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei since he succeeded Islamic Revolution founder Aytollah Ruhollah Khomeini in 1989. But the current crisis has rattled the once-untouchable stature of the supreme leader with protesters openly defying his orders to leave the streets.

Rafsanjani was deeply critical of Ahmadinejad during the presidential campaign and has the potential to lead an internal challenge to Khamenei.

His daughter’s arrest came as something of a surprise: In his Friday sermon to tens of thousands of worshippers, Khamenei praised Rafsanjani as an effective political figure. Khamenei acknowledged, however, that the two have “many differences of opinion”.

Iran’s regime continued to impose a blackout on the most serious internal conflict since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

But fresh images and allegations of brutality emerged as Iranians at home and abroad sought to shed light on a week of astonishing resistance to Ahmadinejad and Khamenei.

The New-York based International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran said scores of injured demonstrators who had sought medical treatment after yesterday’s clashes were arrested by security forces at hospitals in the capital.

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