Iran's religious and political opposition called today for a general strike and national day of mourning Monday in definance of government orders for Iranians to return to work and end street demonstrations.
The strike call was issued by the opposition National Front with the backing of exiled Moslem leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini to protest army shootings in provincial cities in recent days. It appeared to set up another test of strength with the military led government of Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi.
The opposition announcements came amid reports of more violence in the provinces and further bickering by progovernment liberals over the proposal that the shah abdicate in favor of a special council.
While accurate details of the provincial violence are difficult to obtain because of communications problems, the self-interest of various parties and a tendency for eyewitness accounts to be exaggerated in the reteliing, it is clear that unrest is continuing in several parts of the country.
Iranian authorities said five people were killed and 12 injured yesterday when troops opened fire to break up clashes between pro- and anti-shah demonstrators in the northwestern town of Rezaiyeh.
Opposition sources said a number of people were killed in the northeastern shrine city of Mashhad and the southern city of Shiraz. They said clubwielding pro-shah civilians backed by troops raided three hospitals in Mashad where doctors and nurses were staging a sit-in.
The attacks allegedly resulted in the deaths of two patients and a number of injuries.
The sources said 35 persons have been killed by army gunfire in Isfahan and 45 in the nearby town of Najafabad over the past few days.
None of these death tolls could immediately be confirmed.
Shiraz residents said at least 20 people were killed in clashes yesterday on the outskirts of the city. They said the incidents began when troops and government supportes-many of them members of the Bahai faith-clashed with anti-shah Shiire Moslems. In revenge, a group of Moslems reportedly attacked the homes of some Bahais. The violence reportedly continued today when soldiers opened fire during a Shiite funeral procession.
Property owned by Bahais, whose eclectic faith is considered heretical by Shiite Moslems, has frequently been attacked by rioters in the past year of civil disturbances. But the Shiraz incident, the details of which are still sketchy, would represent the first direct clash in recent years between members of different religious in Iran.
The Bahai religion, founded by a Shiraz Moslem in the 19th century, combines the teachings of Islam with those of other word religious leaders and its founder, Baha Allah.
The Bahais and other minorities, including Armenians and Jews, tend to support the shah, because they fear further discrimination should Moslem leaders come to power.
A National Front spokesman in Tehran said the opposition coalition rejected a reported proposal by former prime minister Ali Amini that the shah turn over power to a regency or monarchical council to permit formation of an opposition government.
The spokesman said National Front leader Karim Sanjabi told the shah at a meeting Wednesday that he should step down. The aide insisted that "the issue of a regency council was not brought up."
The shah was said to have rebuffed the suggestion of giving up the Peacock Throne, expressing concern that the military would split and more chaos would ensue if he did.
The National Front spokesman stressed that the meeting between the two men-the first in 26 years-was not arrange in advance. He said the chief of the secret police, SAVAK, took Sanjabi from his home to the shah's Niavaran Palace.
Sanjabi reportedly told the monarch, who has ruled Iran for 37 of his 59 years, that the country now faces "a revolutionary situation." Samjabi, 73, added that the only way to end the present instability was for the shah "to leave the country."
Sanjabi's aide said he doubted that there would be any further meetings, "because there is nothing to talk about."
"There is no solution unde the current circumstances," he said. "The wisest choice would be for the military government to remove the shah."
The administration of Gen. Gholam Reza Azhari, who was appointed prime minister by the shah last month, has so far shown no willingness to do that, despite evidence of increasing strain on the army's unity.
Instead, Azhari ordered provincial governors and the country's security forces to prevent street demonstrations that threatened the peace. He apparently referred to both pro and anti-shah demonstrations.
Azhari also warned that civil servants and workers in government industries would be fired if they did not go to work Saturday-the beginning of the work week here.
The National Front spokesman said, "Everything will shut down Monday. But we are not calling for street demonstrations." Followers are being told to remain at home, he said.
Ayatollah Khomeini, meanwhile, called for continuing work stoppages, especially in Iran's strikebound oil fields.
"It is the people's duty in respect for Islam and the law to disobey the shah and his government and to continue the strike, particulary in the oilfield, until the shah's departure," Khomeini said in a statement distributed at his Pari residence.
On Wednesday, oil production was reported to have fallen to 1.1 million barrels, less than a quarter of the normal 6 million barrel a day.
An oil industry source in Ahwaz, the center of Iran's southern oil operations, said Saturday would be a test of the strikers' readiness to resume work.
"But I don't think it's going to be any better," he said. "There's no positive indication that any of these people are thinking about coming back."
Most of Iran's 57,000 oil workers are out, along with thousands of other public sector employes.
It is not clear whether the oil strikers are currently being paid, as tthey were during an earlier strike, and if so, where the money is coming from. There are unconfirmed reports of a strike fund supported by the religious opposition.
In addition to oil workers, many employes of the central bank, the customs administration, ports organization and several ministries and state owned companies are still off the job.
Gen. Azhari termed the oil strike, which is costing Iran an estimated $60 million a day in lost revenue, "a national tragedy."