Foreign agents blamed for death of two protesters

The Telegraph has changed her first name for security reasons.

The largest protests to strike Iran in almost a decade continued unabated Sunday, despite a government move to block access to Instagram and a popular messaging app used by activists to organize, with even President Hassan Rouhani acknowledging the public's anger over the Islamic Republic's flagging economy.

On Saturday, Telegram had suspended the account of one Iranian channel, Amad News, saying it had violated the service's terms of use by calling for violence.

The protests have erupted at a time of deepening strains between Iran and the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump, who has imposed additional sanctions on Tehran and has threatened to scuttle the nuclear accord.

Trump responded to the protests with a tweet saying, "Many reports of peaceful protests by Iranian citizens fed up with regime's corruption & its squandering of the nation's wealth to fund terrorism overseas". And he adds: "The USA is watching very closely for human rights violations!"

Facebook, which owns Instagram, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The CEO of Telegram says Iran is "blocking access. for the majority of Iranians" after protesters used the popular messaging app to plan and publicize demonstrations.

Iranians said the app is now inaccessible by mobile phone networks.

The wave of anti-government demonstrations in several cities are the biggest challenge to Iran's leaders since unrest in 2009 that followed the disputed re-election of then-President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad went on for months.

It also apparently forced state television to break its silence about the unrest, acknowledging Saturday that it hadn't reported on the protests on orders from security officials.

There was no confirmation of widespread reports that at least two people had been shot dead in the small western town of Dorud.

The Foreign Ministry in Tehran dismissed Trump's comments, saying "the Iranian people place no value or credibility in the opportunistic claims of US officials or of Mr. Trump himself".

Mehr quoted Habibollah Khojastepour, the security deputy of Lorestan's governor, as saying an illegal gathering in Doroud took place on Saturday night and ignited clashes.

He said "two of our dear Doroudi citizens were killed", without elaborating on the cause of death.

Thousands have taken to the streets of cities across Iran, beginning on Thursday in Mashhad, the country's second-largest city and a holy site for Shiite pilgrims.

The guard - whose mandate is to safeguard the Islamic Revolution - warned late Saturday that protesters would face an iron hand if demonstrations didn't stop. If the protests persist, the regime may crack down harder on them, with mass arrests and military lockdowns.

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