How Iran’s security forces are shooting to kill with ‘non-combat’ shotgun shells

© Observers

“If you shoot at close range, you can kill.” In a rare interview, a member of Iran’s Basij paramilitary force told the FRANCE 24 Observers team that members of his unit were firing shotguns at protesters’ chests and heads, aiming to kill them. While shotguns firing special ammunition can be considered “less-lethal” weapons – less deadly than military rifles like Kalashnikovs – they should never be used for crowd control at close range, experts say.

At least 277 Iranians have been documented killed in the protests that have wracked Iran since September 16 over the death of Mahsa Amini, a young woman who died after being arrested by the morality police. Security forces have repressed the protests by force.

While the single highest death toll – more than 66 people killed in the city of Zahedan on September 30 – happened when police opened fire using live rifle bullets, other protesters have been killed and injured by beatings and the use of so-called “less-lethal” weapons – notably shotguns.

>> Read more on The Observers: Zahedan's 'Bloody Friday': Reconstructing a massacre in Iran's Sistan and Baluchistan province

>> Read more on The Observers: Videos document injuries as Iran’s police swap Kalashnikovs for shotguns

‘They aim to kill’

And if you kill someone, you won’t get in trouble. So hotheads or officers who do not care shoot at people’s heads. That can be deadly.


Read more on The Observers - France 24

Read also:
Zahedan's 'Bloody Friday': Reconstructing a massacre in Iran's Sistan and Baluchistan province
‘They shot at us’: A Sharif University student recounts ‘apocalyptic’ repression of protests in Iran
How a video taken out of context made Hadis Najafi a symbol of repression in Iran