• Tuesday, Dec 10, 2019
  • Last Update : 02:00 pm

3 killed as Iran unrest shows no signs of subsiding

  • Published at 09:42 pm November 19th, 2019
IRAN-POLITICS-PETROL-DEMO
Iranian protesters gather around a burning motorcycle during a demonstration against an increase in gasoline prices in the central city of Isfahan, on November 16, 2019 AFP

The situation on the streets remains unclear largely due to the government-imposed internet outage which has entered a third day

Three security personnel have been killed by "rioters" in Iran, the latest deaths in protests that showed no sign of subsiding Tuesday despite a wave of arrests and an internet shutdown.

The deaths take to at least five the number of people confirmed to have been killed in the nationwide demonstrations that erupted on Friday against a shock decision to impose petrol price hikes.

The situation on the streets remains unclear largely due to the government-imposed internet outage which has entered a third day.

On Tuesday morning, AFP journalists saw two petrol stations in central Tehran gutted by fire and damage to other infrastructure including a police station and pedestrian overpass.

But they were prevented from filming as hundreds of riot police stood guard at entrances to major squares in the Iranian capital with armoured vehicles and water cannon.

When the demonstrations broke out on Friday, drivers stopped their vehicles on major thoroughfares in Tehran to block traffic.

They soon turned violent and spread to more than 20 cities and towns across Iran, with banks, petrol stations and other public property set alight and shops looted.

The demonstrations erupted after it was announced the price of petrol would be raised by 50% for the first 60 litres purchased over a month and 200% for any extra fuel after that.

Iran's economy has been battered since May last year when President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the US from a 2015 nuclear agreement and reimposed crippling sanctions.

Ambush

Footage of masked young men clashing with security forces has been broadcast on state television, which rarely shows any signs of dissent.

In a new video aired Monday night, a man can be seen firing what appears to be an assault rifle as others hurl stones apparently at security forces in the western city of Andimeshk.

In the latest bloodshed, assailants wielding knives and machetes ambushed and killed three security personnel west of Tehran, the ISNA and Fars news agencies reported late Monday.

One of the three was identified as Morteza Ebrahimi, a commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and father of a newborn child, according to Fars.

The other two were Majid Sheikhi, 22, and Mostafa Rezaie, 33. Both served in the Basij militia, a volunteer force loyal to the establishment.

The overall toll - which also includes a civilian and policeman - is expected to rise, with unofficial reports saying that at least six other people have been killed.

It is the worst violence since at least 25 lives were lost in protests over economic hardship that started in Iran's second city Mashhad in December 2017 before spreading to other urban centres.