It will “confront the enemies' various plots in order to ensure security and peace for the people who are being unjustly assaulted,” it said
Iranians have staged nationwide demonstrations over the case of Mahsa Amini, 22, who died last week after being arrested by the morality police for wearing “unsuitable attire”. Internet access remained severely restricted in Iran ahead of counter rallies on Friday, after a week of protests. (AA) The Iranian army has said it will “confront the enemies” to ensure security, the toughest warning yet to nationwide protesters enraged by the death of a woman held by police.
More demonstrations as well as pro-government protests were planned for Friday, Iranian media said, with dozens dead in the unrest.
Iranians have staged nationwide demonstrations over the case of Mahsa Amini, 22, who died last week after being arrested by the morality police for wearing “unsuitable attire”.
The army said “these desperate actions are part of the evil strategy of the enemy to weaken the Islamic regime”.
It will “confront the enemies' various plots in order to ensure security and peace for the people who are being unjustly assaulted,” it said.
Iranian media described the pro-governmemt marches that will begin after Friday prayers as a “roar of people's zeal against rioters”.
In the latest unrest, protesters in Tehran and other cities have torched police stations and vehicles as outrage over Amini's death showed no signs of abating, with reports of security forces coming under attack.
Iranian media have reported the arrest of 280 people on Thursday.
An anchor on state TV said late Thursday that 26 protesters and policemen had been killed since the protests erupted last Saturday, without elaborating on how authorities reached that figure.
He said official statistics would be released later, but in past times of turmoil the Iranian government has not offered official death tolls.
READ MORE: US sanctions Iran morality police after death in custody of woman
Anger among the public
Amini's death has reignited anger over issues including restrictions on personal freedoms in Iran – including strict dress codes for women – and an economy reeling from sanctions.
Her death has also sparked sharp condemnation from Western countries and the United Nations, and touched a national nerve.
Authorities have alleged that unnamed foreign countries and opposition groups are trying to foment unrest.
The police have said Amini died of a heart attack and was not mistreated. But her family has cast doubt on that account, as have the many Iranians voicing pent-up anger on the streets.
Iranian security forces have arrested one of Iran's most prominent civil society activists and a journalist who played a key role in exposing the case of Amini, reports said.
Majid Tavakoli, an activist who has been repeatedly imprisoned in Iran in recent years including after disputed 2009 elections, was arrested overnight at his home, his brother Mohsen wrote on Twitter.
Meanwhile, Nilufar Hamedi, a Tehran journalist who went to the hospital where Amini lay in a coma and helped expose the case to the world, has been arrested, the Shargh daily newspaper, for which she works, wrote on Telegram.
Photojournalist Yalda Moaiery was this week arrested while covering protests in Tehran, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said on Thursday.
Tehran is seeking to avoid a revival of the 2019 protests that erupted over gasoline price rises, the bloodiest in its history. Reuters news agency reported 1,500 people were killed.
READ MORE: Death toll from Iran protests climbs as internet restricted
Source: TRTWorld and agencies