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The BBC's Jim Muir in Tehran
"This shooting will raise fears that there may be more troubled times ahead"
 real 28k

Sunday, 12 March, 2000, 10:35 GMT
Leading reformer shot in Iran
President Khatami
President Khatami condemned the attack
One of Iran's leading political reformers and a confidant of President Khatami has been shot by unknown attackers.

Saeed Hajjarian was hit once in the face at close range and has been rushed to Sina Hospital in downtown Tehran.

Doctors said he was in critical condition - the bullet remained lodged in his neck.

Mr Hajjarian helped mastermind the reformists' campaign
President Khatami condemned the attack, and ordered every effort to find the gunmen.

"Terrorists resort to such acts because they have no place among the people and because the people hate them," he said.

The attackers fired twice at Mr Hajjarian outside the city council building in central Tehran at 0835 (0505 GMT) on Sunday, then escaped on a motorbike.

No one has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Dr Mohammad Reza Zafarqandi, a surgeon at the hospital, said Mr Hajjarian was in a coma.

"There is a serious possibility of brain damage," he said. "We are hopeful, but his condition is not good."

The official news agency IRNA said a crowd had gathered outside the hospital.

Key figure

Mr Hajjarian, 47, is a member of Tehran council, and managing director of Sobh-e Emrouz daily newspaper.

women voting
Iranians voted overwhelmingly for reform
A former hard-liner who took part in storming the United States Embassy in the 1979 revolution, Mr Hajjarian is now a key figure in the reformist Participation Party, set up to support President Khatami.

Last year, he was summoned to court by the Tehran Justice Department over an article in his newspaper that the public prosecutor said insulted Islam.

He was released after being questioned.

Results cancelled

Reformists allied to President Khatami dominated last month's parliamentary elections, dealing a serious blow to the conservatives trying to preserve the strict Islamic rule in place since 1979.

Earlier this weekend, three results were cancelled without explanation by the central election body, the Council of Guardians.

The victories of reformist candidates in the southern cities of Bandar Abbas, Minab and Gachsaran were declared invalid .

But the head of the interior ministry's election department said the council had failed to provide any documents or evidence to justify the step.

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11 Mar 00 | Middle East
Reformist victories cancelled in Iran
21 Feb 00 | Middle East
Analysis: Obstacles to change
22 Feb 00 | Middle East
Iran vote welcomed
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