Iran's provinces simmering

Thousands of workers supporting the militants holding 50 American hostages marched on the beleaguered US Embassy Tuesday. Antigovernment crowds rallied in the northwestern city of Tabriz Tuesday as sporadic unrest continued in Iran's troubled provinces. Officials at the East Azerbaijani governor general's office said at least 20,000 people rallied in support of dissident Ayatollah Kazem Shariat-Madari in the main square of Tabriz. Schools and shops were closed in the town for the third successive day, but there was no repetition of the violent clashes reported in Tabriz last weekend.

In the western Kurdish region, Islamic revolutionary guards reported that antigovernment rebels attacked and disarmed a 120-man gendarmerie unit near the Kurdish stronghold of Mahabad. Governor General Jamshid Haqgu of West Azerbaijan confirmed the reports of the gendarmerie incident, which occurred Monday, and said the unit was returning from Mahabad after local demonstrations there.

Security was tightened on the road from Tehran to the holy city of Qom, home of Ayatollah Khomeini, in advance of expected large mourning processions Jan. 9, a Muslim holiday.

The ceremonies mark the 40th day after the anniversary of the martyrdom of Imam Hossein, one of the spiritual ancestors of Shiite Islam. Iranian newspapers reported the death toll in the town had risen to almost 50, but there was no official confirmation of the reports.

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