Sunday, July 11, 1999 Published at 17:59 GMT 18:59 UK
World: Middle East
Police heads roll in Tehran
Pro-reformers stood up for Khatami and defied the religous conservatives
Iran's National Security Council has announced the dismissal of two senior police officers for ordering violence against protesters.
On Sunday thousands of students took to the streets of Tehran and other major cities for a fourth consecutive day of protests in the most serious challenge to the Islamic regime since the 1979 revolution.
Mr Khatami had warned that further disturbances would damage his programme of careful democratic change, which the students support.
The demonstrators had been demanding the arrest and execution of Iran's hardline top policeman, General Hedeyat Lotfian, and for control of law-enforcement agencies to be transferred from the Islamic authorities to President Khatami.
The National Security Council, headed by the president himself, had earlier promised to punish the leader of a police operation in which five students were reportedly killed.
Several hundred students at a Tehran hostel had been staging a peaceful demonstration in support of press freedom when they were attacked on Friday by police and anti-reform vigilantes.
Demonstrators earlier shouted slogans calling on Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, to intervene to prevent further attacks. Accusations of his alleged complicity in the student deaths were also chanted.
Police kept away and the protesters placed blockades of tires and barbed wire across roads near the university.
The faculty heads described the incident at the hostel as an "unprecedented crime in our university's history".
The Minister of Higher Education, Mostafa Moin, also offered his resignation but Mr Khatami is reported to have rejected it.
More than 500 journalists working for pro-reform newspapers have added their voice to the protests by announcing a one-day strike against the closure of Salam to take place on Tuesday.
Ayatollah Khamenei, who is supreme leader of the Islamic revolutionary state, is identified with the reactionaries but has always avoided comment on the reform debate.
Meanwhile the reformers have previously refrained from publicly criticising the Ayatollah, or blaming him for the obstacles being placed in front of President Khatami and his supporters.