Iranian police have shot dead one rioter and wounded others as protests continue to spread across the Middle East.

Despite a government ban on protesters, people gathered in Azadi Square in central Tehran shouting ‘Death to the Dictator’ as police fired tear gas into the crowds, inspired by the outcome of protests in Tunisia and Egypt.

Police also put Mirhossein Moussavi and Mehdi Karroubi, who are the oppositional presidential candidates, under house arrest. The defeat of Moussavi and Karroubi in the 2009 elections triggered weeks of violent protests in Tehran two years ago.

Mobile phone connections were down in the areas of protests. The protests in Iran are mainly being led by the country’s young people, who are seeking political freedom and an end to autocracy. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton praised the courage of the Iranians and urged Tehran to follow the example of Egypt and Tunisia, where protests were successful in removing heads of state.