The Latest: Iran's Interior Ministry says 42,000 protested

The Latest on protests in Iran (all times local):

5:45 p.m.

Iran's interior minister is saying at most some 42,000 people took part in the week of protests that roiled the Islamic Republic.

Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli said in a statement Thursday that the figure was "based on precise statistics we have."

Fazli said the continuation of the protests during the past week was because of the "leniency, restrain, tolerance and interaction" of the government. He did not elaborate.

This is the first time authorities have given a figure for the total number of participants in the protests.

On Wednesday, Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari, the chief of Iran's paramilitary Revolutionary Guard, said the biggest gathering included some 1,500 protesters.

The protest began last Thursday in Mashhad and quickly extended to other cities. Unrest surrounding them has killed at least 21 people.


10 a.m.

Claims of more protests in Iran have dropped overnight after a week of unrest that killed at least 21 people.

It wasn't immediately clear if the drop on Thursday meant that the demonstrations are subsiding or that the Iranian government's blocking of social media apps has stopped protesters from offering new images of rallies.

In Tehran, streets were calm and clear at the start of the Iranian weekend.

On Wednesday, Iranian state media covered massive pro-government rallies in dozens of cities across the Islamic Republic.

The protests began on Dec. 28, sparked by Iran's flagging economy and a rise in food prices, before morphing over the following days into calls for the downfall of Iran's theocratic government.

Hundreds have been arrested by authorities over the unrest.