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Fire heavily damages office of reformist Iranian lawmaker

Photos said to be of reformist parliament member Nasrollah Torabi's office show it strewn with debris.
Photos said to be of reformist parliament member Nasrollah Torabi's office show it strewn with debris.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Reformist lawmaker Nasrollah Torabi's office burned Tuesday
  • Opposition figure Mir Hossein Moussavi says fire caused by extremists
  • Torabi says he was under pressure after he criticized government in speech
  • Torabi urges people not to react to incident, according to Parleman News
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Tehran, Iran (CNN) -- The office of a reformist Iranian member of parliament burned Tuesday night, and a reformist Web site said the act was the work of extremists.

Mir Hossein Moussavi, an opposition candidate in the disputed June 12 presidential election, blamed the fire at the office of Nasrollah Torabi on plainclothes militia on Moussavi's Facebook Web site, where he also posted photos.

The photos showed heavy damage, with charred furniture, peeling wallpaper and floors strewn with broken glass, debris and ashes.

Parleman News, a newsgathering organization for the Path of the Imam Khomeini faction of parliament, said the office was vandalized before it was torched. Khomeini was the leader of the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran.

Torabi, who represents the southwestern province of Cahar-Mahal Bakhtiari in parliament, told Parleman News that he was awaiting the outcome of an investigation. The office is in the city of Shahr-e Kurd.

Torabi urged people not to react to the incident, according to Parleman News. He said intelligence agencies and the Interior Ministry must investigate the fire and punish those responsible.

The lawmaker said that after he gave a speech in parliament criticizing the government, he came under heavy criticism from government supporters, Parleman News said. No date was given for the speech.

"After that speech in the meeting of the Planning Council for Cahar-Mahal Bakhtiari [Province], we witnessed the anger of the province's governor-general," Torabi said.

Investigators "must not allow some people to use force, scare tactics and oppression to bring the three principles of independence, freedom and Islamic Republic under question," he added, according to Parleman News.

Torabi said that after he gave the speech, banners condemning him were distributed throughout Shahr-e Kurd, with the backing of the governor's office.

According to Moussavi, Torabi told the news organization: "In the middle of the night some made their last pathetic attempt and set the office of a representative of the people on fire with the aim of silencing the members of the parliament."

Moussavi called the fire an attempt at intimidation.

Opponents of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad have held sometimes-violent protests after he was swept into office for a second term despite accusations of election fraud.

The latest protest occurred Sunday on the Shiite Muslim holy day of Ashura, which marks the death of Imam Hussein, grandson of Prophet Mohammed, as a martyr. A prosecutor said seven people died, including Moussavi's nephew, in the demonstrations.

 
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