World

Iranians bury dead from downed plane

By AAP Newswire

Iranians have buried their dead from an airliner shot down by the military, after days of rage against Iran's rulers, and a heavy police response.

Emotions have been running high as the 176 victims of the crash on January 8 are mourned. The national flag was ripped from the coffin of one victim when relatives collected the body and the mother shouted "Tear it off," an online video post showed..

Protesters took to the streets of Iranian cities for four days after the armed forces acknowledged on Saturday, after days of denials, that they had brought down the plane. In several places, demonstrators met a fierce police response.

Iranians on social media called for more protests on Wednesday, but there was no sign of the kind of rallies of previous days. Instead videos showed riot police massed outside universities, the focal point for demonstrations.

In earlier protests, footage showed police beating protesters, sounds of gunshots, teargas and blood on the ground.

The full scale of the unrest and the crackdown is difficult to determine because of media restrictions.

Just two months ago, a crackdown on protests caused by fuel price hikes killed hundreds of people.

A state-sponsored body has called for rallies on Friday to show support for the leadership and to commemorate "martyrs" of the plane disaster.

The plane was downed by air defences when the armed forces were on high alert for US reprisals, hours after Iran launched missiles against US targets in Iraq in retaliation for a US drone strike that killed a top Iranian commander on January 3.

Crash investigators from Canada - the home of many of the victims - have visited the site of the crash and will examine the wreckage later on Wednesday, Transport Minister Marc Garneau said.

Ukraine is trying to establish whether Iran will hand over the black boxes containing flight data from the plane, a senior Ukrainian prosecutor was quoted by Interfax Ukraine as saying on Wednesday.

On Thursday, Canada, Ukraine, Britain and other nations who had citizens on the downed plane are to meet in London to discuss legal action against Iran.

The military and top officials apologised for the "unforgivable error" in bringing the plane down and said it would prosecute those to blame. The judiciary said people had been arrested who were accused of having a role in the disaster.