TEHRAN: Iranian police in just one province have arrested over 700 people during more than a week of protests following the death of a young woman in custody, Tasnim news agency reported Saturday.
General Azizollah Maleki, police chief of Guilan province, announced "the arrest of 739 rioters including 60 women", the Iranian media outlet said.
As deadly protests flare in Iran after the death of 22-year-old Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini, Iranians who have crossed into neighbouring Iraq's Kurdistan region for work speak fearfully of repression back home.
Amini died after her arrest by Iran's feared morality police for allegedly wearing a hijab headscarf in an "improper" way. News of her death on September 16 sparked widespread outrage and triggered rare demonstrations.
"The protests begin in the evening and continue into the middle of the night," said Kawa Krimi, 50, who had come to Iraq from Iran to visit relatives.
On streets in Iran, young people have set fire to pictures of Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei amid shouts of "death to the dictator".
Protests have provoked a deadly backlash by security forces, with the authorities trying to restrict internet access to snuff out coverage.
Iranians who cross into Iraq for work or to see relatives say they are still too scared of repercussions at home to speak openly. Krimi, using an alias, said that in his home town of Marivan in western Iran a "general strike" had begun on Friday.
"All the shops and markets are closed," he said. Some said that while Amini's death was a trigger, a long-running economic crisis and a wider climate of repression fed into the explosion of anger.