Iran police disperse protesters
It's started.
Iranian police have used water cannon, batons and tear gas to disperse protests over the presidential election, witnesses in Tehran say. Police earlier warned protesters not to gather, but several thousand made their way to the central rally site.

A BBC correspondent at Enghelab Square said there was a huge security operation, including military police, anti-riot police and Basij militia.

There were also reports of a bombing at the shrine of Ayatollah Khomeini. Two Iranian news agencies reported that the suicide bomber died and two people were injured in the bombing near the shrine of Ayatollah Khomeini, leader of the 1979 revolution. There was no evidence to support the report, the BBC's Jon Leyne says from Tehran.

The country's supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei had warned protesters a day earlier not to continue their rallies, but correspondents say the warning appears to have made some protesters more determined. It was unclear if political leaders had backed their supporters continuing to march.

Other developments included:
  • People using the micro-blogging site Twitter said smoke lay over Enghelab Square, and protesters were throwing stones
  • One witness told AFP news agency that he saw police beating people trying to reach the rally site
  • About 3,000 protesters were reportedly gathered at Enghelab Square, according to Associated Press news agency. They chanted "Death to the dictator" and "Death to dictatorship"
  • Witnesses told AP that up to 60 people were seriously beaten by police, with some being dragged away by fellow protesters
  • There were between 1,000-2,000 protesters in front of Tehran University, near Enghelab Square, AFP quoted witnesses as saying
  • The campus was cordoned off by riot police, AP reported
  • Helicopters and sirens could be heard over central Tehran, and black smoke seen, AP reported
These reports could not be independently confirmed, and foreign news organisations - including the BBC - have been subjected to strict controls which prevent reporters from leaving their offices.

The BBC's Jon Leyne, who is also in Tehran, says the impression was that the police had broken up very large crowds into smaller groups to prevent them assembling.
Posted by: Steve White 2009-06-20