Iranian demonstrators defied a heavy police presence Sunday night to protest after the government reversed course and admitting it shot down a passenger plane, killing all 176 people aboard.
Videos posted online showed protesters shouting anti-government slogans and moving through subway stations and sidewalks, many near Azadi, or Freedom, Square after an earlier call for people to demonstrate there. Other videos suggested similar protests were taking place in other Iranian cities.
Riot police had massed outside Tehran University and at squares and landmarks across the capital as calls circulated for demonstrations.
Protesters first gathered Saturday, angrily demanding the country’s supreme leader step down after the government admitted it had unintentionally shot down a Ukrainian passenger plane on Wednesday.
The incident came just hours after Iran launched ballistic missiles at Iraqi bases hosting American troops in retaliation for the U.S. killing Gen. Qassem Soleimani.
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif blamed “human error at time of crisis caused by US adventurism.”
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President Donald Trump tweeted early Sunday, urging Iran’s leaders: “DO NOT KILL YOUR PROTESTERS.”
To the leaders of Iran – DO NOT KILL YOUR PROTESTERS. Thousands have already been killed or imprisoned by you, and the World is watching. More importantly, the USA is watching. Turn your internet back on and let reporters roam free! Stop the killing of your great Iranian people!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 12, 2020
The president also weighed in Saturday with messages of support for the protesters in both English and Farsi.
Videos posted to social media showed demonstrators expressing anger at the regime’s admission and what they perceived as an initial cover-up.
Most of those who died in the tragedy were Iranians and Iranian-Canadians.
Also Saturday, Iran briefly detained the British ambassador to the country in what the U.K. said was a violation of international law.
Prior to acknowledging its mistake Saturday, Iran denied shooting down the plane and accused the U.S. of “a big lie.”
U.S. intelligence officials had said earlier that evidence suggested the plane was shot down by an Iranian missile by mistake, multiple officials said.
Tehran’s admission of guilt raised further questions, such as why it did not shut down its international airport or airspace while conducting strikes against U.S. targets.
Also on Sunday, four members of Iraq’s military were wounded in a rocket attack targeting an air base just north of Baghdad where American trainers are present, Iraqi security officials said. No group claimed responsibility for the attack.
The attack by at least six rockets came just days after Iran fired ballistic missiles at two bases in Iraq that house U.S. forces, causing no casualties.
In the weeks before Soleimani was killed, Iran was rocked by anti-government protests that prompted swift and deadly government crackdowns.
Sparked in November by hikes in gasoline prices, the Iranian demonstrations quickly expanded to cover calls for more political freedom and other issues.
Widespread economic discontent has gripped the country since May, when Trump imposed crushing sanctions after having unilaterally withdrawn from Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers.