March 4 (UPI) -- Police and security forces in Iran killed at least 23 children in one month last fall during a nationwide crackdown on protesters, a study by Amnesty International concluded Wednesday.
The 36-page report, titled "They Shot Our Children," said evidence shows at least 22 were shot dead by Iranian security forces, who'd fired live ammunition at unarmed protesters in November who'd been opposing a sudden spike in the cost of gasoline.
Amnesty said it estimates at least 304 people were killed and thousands were injured over a four-day period that month when security forces suppressed the protests with lethal force.
The group said it compiled the report from videos, photographs, death and burial certificates and eyewitness accounts.
According to Amnesty's analysis, the toll last November included 22 boys and a young girl who died in 13 cities and six Iranian provinces -- figures that reflect what it called the "widespread nature" of Tehran's "bloody crackdown."
"An increasingly gruesome picture has emerged of the extent to which Iranian security forces unlawfully used lethal force to crush last year's nationwide protests," said Philip Luther, Amnesty's research and advocacy director for the Middle East and North Africa. "However, it is still devastating to learn that the number of children who fell victim to this brutality is so shockingly high."
Luther called for independent and impartial investigations into the killings and urged authorities to prosecute, fairly, those responsible.
During the violence last fall, Iranian officials dismissed reports that more than 100 people had died in the protests, and said they were part of a "disinformation campaign" to destabilize Iran.