Eight women leaders were detained at protests over the death of 22-year-old Kurdish ethnic woman Mahsa Amini, a commander of the Iranian special police has revealed.
"So far, we have had more than eight arrests of women leaders and 10 instances of dispersing people who decided to invite other people to gather, and we were able to convince them to leave the scene by talking to them," Colonel Heydari told the Mehr news agency on September 21.
He said that the all-female unit of the special police was established specifically to arrest women "disrupting order and security", adding that it carried out its first official mission targeting protests on September 20.
The unit was tasked with arresting protestors who were not taken into custody by the male special unit due to the observance of the Islamic law standards.
Street protests are continuing in several provinces six days after the death of Mahsa Amini. The young woman died in the morality police's custody for not observing the Islamic dress code. Protests have since broken out in Amini's home province Kurdistan, as well as universities nationwide.
Access to Instagram which has over 40 million users in Iran has also been restricted in the country. Other popular social media networks such Twitter, Facebook and YouTube have been banned since the 2009 riots in Iran.
Meanwhile, Iran's minister of communications said on September 21 that "restrictions to the internet may be decided and applied by the security apparatus, but overall we have not had any bandwidth reduction".
Six protesters, one police officer were killed and dozens have been wounded in the protests since September 16.
Iranian authorities often describe anti-government protests as riots organised by agents of foreign powers and opposition groups.
The governor-general of Iran's western Kurdistan Province, Esmail Zarei Kousha, said three Iranians were killed under suspicious circumstances in recent protests over the death of Amini.
"We have put ourselves at the service of the late Mahsa Amini's family and stated that according to the order of the president, all cases will be dealt with to prevent the violation of their rights," he added.
He added that "investigations have shown that these people were shot and killed by the enemies of the regime and with combat weapons that none of the security and military ranks in the province use."
Amid growing public anger, Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi expressed his condolences to the Amini family in a phone call on September 18.
"I have directed officials to closely investigate the issue so that no right is violated. Your daughter and all Iranian girls are my children and I do feel like I have lost a loved one," the president said.