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Iran tear gases 10,000 protesters

by Afshin Valinejad

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, July 13, 1999 (AP)-In a flashback to the revolution that installed Iran's Islamic government 20  years ago, police fired tear gas at 10,000 protesters on the streets of Tehran today after they marched for a sixth day in protest of hard-liners who have thwarted efforts to institute reforms.

Police in riot gear attacked the protesters, pulling some away by the hair and beating others with batons, witnesses said.

Scores of protesters, defying a government ban on demonstrations, were hauled away in waiting trucks from outside Tehran University, where the demonstrators had converged.  The student-led unrest, which has left two people dead and scores injured, is the first time that supporters of reformist President Mohammad Khatami have taken to streets in such big numbers to confront his rivals in the government, the hard-line clerics.

Khatami urged the students Monday to "respect the law ... and avoid violence," Tehran radio reported.

The demonstrations were triggered by the unauthorized storming by the police of a Tehran University hostel early Friday after student rallied against the banning of a liberal newspaper on Thursday. One person was killed and 20 injured in the assault. On Sunday, a theology student was shot dead in the northwestern city of Tabriz, where students smashed shop windows and set a vehicle on fire.

The hard-liners are backed by the country's unelected supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.