IRAN-An opposition leader pledged Friday to remain defiant in the face of new threats - including calls by hard-liners for his execution - and said he would sacrifice his life in defense of the people's right to protest peacefully against the government.

Mir Hossein Mousavi's remarks come after the worst unrest since the immediate aftermath of the disputed June presidential election. At least eight people died during anti-government protests on Sunday, including Mousavi's nephew.

In one of his strongest statements to date, Mousavi said he was "ready for martyrdom" - the sacrifice of one's life for a higher cause - and lashed out at the bloody crackdown the authorities are waging against the opposition.

He said the government was making more mistakes by resorting to violence and killings, and that it must accept the people's rights to hold peaceful demonstrations.

Iranian hard-liners have called for the execution of Mousavi and other opposition figures, while a previously unknown group claimed in an online posting that suicide squads were ready to assassinate opposition leaders should the judiciary fail to punish them within a week. (AP)