Protests spread in Iran after petrol price hikes, rationing

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Tehran

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 including police, the Revolutionary Guards and Basij militia, the semi-official ISNA news agency reported.
The demonstrations broke out on Friday, hours after it was announced that the price of petrol would be hiked by 50 percent for the first 60 liters and 300 percent for anything above that each month.
“Unfortunately someone was killed,” Sirjan’s acting governor Mahmoudabadi said in the report, adding that the cause of the death and whether “the individual was shot or not” was still unclear. Mahmoudabadi emphasised that “security forces did not have permission to shoot and were only allowed to fire warning shots… which they did.” It was a “calm gathering” that was 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 said.
Besides Sirjan, “scattered” protests were also held on Friday in other cities including Abadan, Ahvaz, Bandar Abbas, Birjand, Gachsaran, Khoramshahr, Mahshahr, Mashhad and Shiraz, state news agency IRNA said.
But they were mostly limited to blocking traffic and were over by midnight, IRNA reported. Fresh demonstrations were held on Saturday in the cities of Doroud, Garmsar, Gorgan, Ilam, Karaj, Khoramabad, Mehdishahr, Qazvin, Qom, Sanandaj, Shahroud and Shiraz, IRNA said.
“Some drivers have protested the new petrol price by turning off their cars and creating traffic jams,” the official news agency added. Iran imposed petrol rationing and raised pump prices by at least 50 percent on Friday, saying the move was aimed at helping citizens in need with cash handouts. The measure was expected to bring in $2.55 billion per annum, the head of the country’s Planning and Budget Organization, Mohammad Bagher Nobakht, said on state television, — AFP

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