Iranian police arrest seven Kurds

Police have arrested seven members of a Kurdish separatist group, accused them of ethnic rioting last year, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported Monday.

"Seven members of the Pejak group were arrested," Gen. Hossein Khodakarami of the Iranian police told the agency, referring to the Kurdish opposition group, Party of Free Life for Kurdistan. "They were involved in various clashes in West Azerbaijan province."

Khodakarami said the detainees, who included Pejak's leader, had been trying to provoke unrest.

Riots broke out in several Kurdish-majority towns in northwest Iran last year after police killed a young Kurdish activist in West Azerbaijan province. Human Rights Watch said at the time that at least 17 people had been killed and hundreds more injured and arrested in the clashes. Members of the security forces were said to be among the casualties.

Pejak and other Kurdish opposition groups have been calling on Kurds to take part in a civil disobedience campaign.

Iran has accused Washington of encouraging the Kurds to mount anti-government demonstrations, reports the AP.

I.L.