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Defying police, Iranians protest over shot down plane

Iran has deployed riot police in the capital expecting more protests after its Revolutionary Guard admitted to accidentally shooting down a passenger plane.

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Iranian demonstrators are defying a heavy police presence to protest Sunday night in Tehran over the Islamic Republic's days of denials that it shot down a Ukrainian passenger plane and killed 176 people. 

Videos posted online Sunday night showed protesters shouting anti-government slogans and moving through subway stations and sidewalks. 

Many were 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. 

Iran has deployed riot police in the capital expecting more protests after its Revolutionary Guard admitted to accidentally shooting down a passenger plane.

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Protesters chanted slogans and held up posters of Gen. Qassem Soleimani during a demonstration in front of the British Embassy in Tehran on Sunday.

A candlelight ceremony late Saturday in Tehran turned into a protest, with hundreds of people chanting against the country's leaders — including Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei — and police dispersing them with tear gas. 

Police briefly detained the British ambassador to Iran, Rob Macaire, who said he went to the Saturday vigil without knowing it would turn into a protest.

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Credit: AP
People gather for a candlelight vigil to remember the victims of the Ukraine plane crash, at the gate of Amri Kabir University that some of the victims of the crash were former students of, in Tehran, Iran, Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)

Riot police and plainclothes officers could be seen massing at several Tehran landmarks as calls circulated for protests throughout the day. 

The plane crash early Wednesday killed 176 people, mostly Iranians and Iranian-Canadians. 

After initially blaming the crash on a technical failure, authorities finally admitted to accidentally shooting it down in the face of mounting evidence and accusations by Western leaders. The plane was shot down at a time of soaring tensions with the United States after a U.S. airstrike killed Soleimani, Iran's top general.

Hundreds of students met at Tehran’s Shahid Beheshti University on Sunday to pay respects to the victims. The students also protested against authorities for hiding the cause of the crash. 

Credit: AP
Protesters chant slogans and hold up posters of Gen. Qassem Soleimani during a demonstration in front of the British Embassy in Tehran, Iran, Sunday, Jan. 12, 2020. A candlelight ceremony late Saturday in Tehran turned into a protest, with hundreds of people chanting against the country's leaders — including Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei — and police dispersing them with tear gas. Police briefly detained the British ambassador to Iran, Rob Macaire, who said he went to the Saturday vigil without knowing it would turn into a protest. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)

As The Associated Press reported, Ambassador Macaire was detained and then released after he went to the vigil and said he didn't know it was going to turn into a protest. 

Macaire tweeted, “Can confirm I wasn’t taking part in any demonstrations!” going on to write, “Went to an event advertised as a vigil for victims of #PS752 tragedy. Normal to want to pay respects — some of victims were British. I left after 5 mins, when some started chanting.” 

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