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Ahmadinejad Reelected in Iran as Demonstrators Protest Result

After a hotly contested election pitting President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad against leading challenger Mir Hossein Mousavi, the government declared Ahmadinejad the winner on June 13. Mousavi's supporters took to the streets to protest the results, and were met with harsh security crackdowns.

He warned that "people won't respect those who take power through fraud." The headline on the Web site declared, "I won't give in to this dangerous manipulation," the AP reported.

Mousavi appealed to Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, to intervene. But Khamenei had already issued a televised statement that declared Ahmadinejad the victor, and he appealed to Iranians and the defeated candidates to support the president. Khamenei's statement made it unlikely the election results will be overturned.

In his address, Ahmadinejad criticized his opponents, particularly the influential clerics and former officials behind Mousavi who have ties to the 1979 Islamic revolution. He said it did not matter what they had done at the time of the revolution. "It matters what they do now," he insisted, suggesting that his opponents were not working for the people.

Tensions enveloped Tehran early Saturday after Ahmadinejad had been declared the victor. Youths, families and young women in traditional black chadors gathered around the heavily fortified Interior Ministry, where the votes had been counted.

Fights erupted in several locations across Tehran soon after Khamenei's televised statement.

On Mottahari Street, protesters set three buses on fire. Riot police appeared in full protective clothing and helmets, wielding batons as they raced through the streets in two-man teams on red motorcycles. Others stood in lines between three burned city buses.

Hundreds of protesters rained stones at the police. Thick black smoke filled the air. Loud thuds could be heard in the distance.

"We want freedom!" protesters shouted. Many covered their faces with green cloth, the color of their candidate, Mousavi. About a dozen ran after someone they thought was an undercover policeman. Dressed in a checkered shirt, wearing a backpack, he had stood between the mostly younger protesters, trying to film them.

"You are without honor!" two girls covered in traditional chadors shouted at police.

Traffic sign poles that had been ripped from the ground lined the streets. "Fight them!" one man shouted. "Death to the dictatorship!" others yelled at they ran toward the riot police.

In other locations, demonstrators threw policemen to the ground, who were then beaten and kicked by bystanders. "They have insulted us with this result," said Mehrdad, a student who refused to give his family name. "We want Mousavi," the men around him said.

"Commando troops are beating the people. I even saw they beat an old lady," said Morteza Alviri, a former major from Tehran, now a campaign official for Mehdi Karroubi, a former candidate. He was trapped in his car by the protests and spoke by phone. "They were beating her to a pulp," he shouted.

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