DUBAI, United Arab Emirates— Protesters across Iran continued to clash violently with security forces early Friday, Sept. 23, 2022, following the death of a young woman in police custody, as Iranian state TV suggested the death toll from the unrest could be as high as 26, without offering details.

Although the scope of the protests across some dozen Iranian cities and towns remains unclear, the movement represents the widest unrest since 2019, when rights groups said hundreds of people were killed in a violent crackdown. Iran has also disrupted internet access to the outside world, according to internet traffic monitor Netblocks, and tightened restrictions on popular platforms used to organize rallies like Instagram and WhatsApp.

An anchor on state TV said late Thursday, Sept. 22, that 26 protesters and policemen had been killed since the protests erupted last Saturday after the funeral of the 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, without elaborating on how authorities reached that figure. He said official statistics would be released later, but in past times of turmoil the Iranian government has not offered official death tolls.

The unrest has killed at least 11 people according to a tally by The Associated Press, based on statements from state-run and semiofficial media. Most recently, the deputy governor of Qazvin, Abolhasan Kabiri, said that a citizen and paramilitary officer had been killed in unrest that rocked two cities in the northwestern province.

The crisis unfolding in Iran began as a public outpouring over the death of Amini, a young woman from a northwestern Kurdish town who was arrested by the country’s morality police in Tehran last week for allegedly violating its strictly-enforced dress code. The police said she died of a heart attack and was not mistreated, but her family has cast doubt on that account.

Amini’s death has sparked sharp condemnation from Western countries and the United Nations and touched a national nerve. Hundreds of Iranians across at least 13 cities from the capital, Tehran, to Amini’s northwest Kurdish hometown of Saqez have poured into the streets, voicing pent-up anger over social and political repression. Authorities have alleged that unnamed foreign countries and opposition groups are trying to foment unrest. (AP)