Nine people reported killed in clashes as protests continue across Iran
02 January, 2018, 11:39 | Author: Phil Peters
More than 20 people are now reported to have died amid escalating protests in Iran after nine were killed during clashes last night.
A Monday report by the semi-official ILNA news agency quoted Hedayatollah Khademi, a representative for the town of Izeh, as saying the deaths happened there Sunday night.
Thousands of Iranians hit the streets Thursday in the northeastern cities of Mashhad and Kashmar to protest rising commodity prices and perceived government mismanagement, according to local media reports.
Ali Shamkhani, secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, described the unrest - the biggest challenge to the regime since mass protests in 2009-as a "proxy war against the Iranian people".
This puts the death toll to at least 20 people following six days of demonstrations.
Two more, including a teenage boy, were run down and killed by a fire engine stolen by protesters in the western town of Dorud on Sunday-a story emphasised on state television.
State TV said: "Some armed protesters tried to take over some police stations and military bases but faced serious resistance from security forces".
It was not clear if those killed in the overnight clashes were demonstrators, police, or members of the country's paramilitary Revolutionary Guard. It says all were shot by hunting rifles.
The towns are all in Iran's central Isfahan province, some 350 kilometres (215 miles) south of Tehran.
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Authorities have also blocked access to Instagram and the messaging app Telegram to try to damp down the protests.
The latest violence came despite President Hassan Rouhani's vow that the nation would deal with "rioters and lawbreakers".
"I demand all prosecutors across the country to get involved and the approach should be strong", he said.
US President Donald Trump, who has been tweeting in support of the protesters, continued into the New Year, describing Iran as 'failing at every level despite the awful deal made with them by the Obama Administration'.
Germany has called on the government of Iran to let people exercise their right to peaceful protest. All the protest rallies so far haven't received prior permission from the Interior Ministry, making them illegal under Iranian law. 'They are hungry for food & for freedom.
The European Union Monday pushed Iran to guarantee the right to protest and separately British foreign minister Boris Johnson said "the United Kingdom is watching events in Iran closely". A recent increase in egg and poultry prices by as much as 40 per cent, which the government has blamed on a cull over avian flu fears, appears to have been the spark for the economic protests.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the "brave Iranians" protesting against a regime that "wastes tens of billions of dollars spreading hate".
He also called on "all concerned to refrain from violence and for worldwide obligations on human rights to be observed".
Unemployment in Iran is about 12 percent, but among youth it reached 28.8 percent in 2017. Unemployment remains high, and official inflation has crept up to 10 per cent again.
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