Saturday, March 25, 2023

One dead as petrol protests spread


One person was killed and others injured in protests that spread across Iran on Saturday after a surprise decision to impose petrol price hikes and rationing in the country hit by US sanctions.

The death occurred in the central city of Sirjan, where people tried to set fire to a fuel depot but were thwarted by security forces, the semi-official ISNA news agency reported.

It came as the demonstrations broke out Friday, hours after it was announced the price of petrol would be hiked by 50 percent for the first 60 litres and 300 percent for anything above that each month.

“Unfortunately someone was killed,” Sirjan’s acting governor Mohammad Mahmoudabadi said, adding the cause of the death and whether “the individual was shot or not” was still unclear.

“Security forces did not have permission to shoot and were only allowed to fire warning shots… which they did,” ISNA quoted him as saying.

It was a “calm gathering” exploited by some who “destroyed public property, damaged fuel stations and also wanted to access the oil company’s main fuel depots and set fire to them,” he added.

Besides Sirjan, “scattered” protests were also held Friday in other cities including Abadan, Ahvaz, Bandar Abbas, Birjand, Gachsaran, Khoramshahr, Mahshahr, Mashhad and Shiraz, state news agency IRNA said.

Some “rioters” in Ahvaz set fire to a bank and in Khoramshahr “suspicious and unknown armed individuals” fired at people and injured a few, state television’s website said.

In other cities, protests were mostly limited to blocking traffic and were over by midnight, it added.

Police fired tear gas at protesters in some cities, state television said, without specifying when.

It accused “hostile media” of trying to use fake news and videos on social media to exaggerate protests as “large and extensive”.

Prosecutor general Mohammad Jafar Montazeri said the people would part ways with “the few disruptors” whose actions show they are against the system.


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