Protests erupt in Iranian cities after petrol price rises 50%, Latest World News - The New Paper

Protests erupt in Iranian cities after petrol price rises 50%

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DUBAI: Riot police and security forces clashed with demonstrators in Teheran and dozens of cities across Iran on Saturday, Iranian news agencies and social media said.

The reports said demonstrators chanted anti-government slogans around the country, a day after the government increased the price of regular petrol to 15,000 rials (60 Singapore cents) a litre from 10,000 rials and rationed it.

State television said police clashed with what it called rioters in some cities and fired tear gas to disperse them.

One person was killed and several were wounded in the city of Sirjan on Friday, the ISNA news agency quoted a local official as saying on Saturday.

"People attacked a fuel storage warehouse in Sirjan and tried to set fire to it," the state news agency IRNA said.

Iranian Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli told state TV that security forces "have so far shown restraint" but will act to restore calm if the demonstrators "damaged public properties".

Videos posted on social media from inside Iran showed protesters setting fire to buildings and clashing with riot police. In other videos, protesters blocked roads and set fires in the streets. Some chanted slogans against top officials.

"People are very angry here in Shiraz (city). I heard gun shots. Hundreds of people are in the streets. They burned a police car this morning," a witness told Reuters by telephone.

Protests spread to least 40 cities and towns on Saturday, Iranian media said.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo supported the protesters,tweeting: "As I said to the people of Iran almost a year and a half ago: The US is with you."

Protesters were seeing slower internet speeds and limited access, social media reports said, an apparent effort by the authorities to limit communication between demonstrators.

Many people in oil-producing Iran see cheap petrol as a national right, and the price hike sparked worries about a further squeeze on living costs.

Lawmakers will debate the price hike decision, Iranian media reported. - REUTERS