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EU deplores 'unacceptable loss of life' in Iran protests

BRUSSELS, Jan 3, 2018 (BSS/AFP) - EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini Tuesday deplored "the unacceptable loss of human lives" linked to the protests in Iran and called on "all concerned to refrain from violence".

A total of 21 people have been killed in the protests which erupted last Thursday in the second city Mashhad and quickly spread.

"The European Union is closely following the ongoing demonstrations in Iran, the increase of violence and the unacceptable loss of human lives," Mogherini said in a statement released Tuesday night on behalf of the EU.

"Peaceful demonstration and freedom of expression are fundamental rights that apply to every country, and Iran is no exception," she said, adding that "in the last days, we have been in touch with the Iranian authorities".

"In the spirit of openness and respect that is at the root of our relationship, we expect all concerned to refrain from violence and to guarantee freedom of expression," said Mogherini.

The EU on Monday called on Iran to guarantee the right to protest as authorities moved to crack down on days of unrest.

The protests are the biggest challenge to the Islamic regime since mass demonstrations over a disputed presidential election in 2009.