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AFP
November 22, 2019

Iran’s Guards praise ‘timely’ action against protests

World

AFP
November 22, 2019

TEHRAN: Iran’s Revolutionary Guards on Thursday praised the armed forces for taking "timely" action against "rioters" and suggested calm had been restored after days of unrest sparked by a hike in petrol prices.

Authorities vowed to arrest leaders of the protests that started last Friday, in which police stations were attacked, petrol pumps torched and shops looted, and which Iran has blamed on a plot by foreign enemies.

While the Internet remained mostly blocked for a fifth day, state TV showed footage of what it said were spontaneous pro-government rallies to celebrate that the conspiracy had been defeated.

Crowds chanted messages such as "death to seditionists, death to America" and "the blood in our veins is a gift to our leader" in cities including Qom, Isfahan, Shiraz, Bandar Abbas and Kerman.

In the days of unrest, "incidents, big and small, caused by the rise in petrol price took place in (a little) less than 100 cities across Iran," said a statement on the Guards’ official website Sepahnews.com.

It said the "incidents were ended in less than 24 hours and in some cities in 72 hours" as a result of the "armed forces’ insight and timely action". Protest leaders were arrested by the Guards’ intelligence arm in the province of Tehran and Alborz as well as in the southern city of Shiraz, said the statement.

The "arrest of the rioters’ leaders has contributed significantly to calming the situation," it added. A top Iranian security official, Rear Admiral Ali Shamkhani, vowed that "every single one of the rioters, wherever in Iran they may be, will be identified and punished".

"Enemies wanted to exploit the Iranian nation’s protest regarding livelihood issues but failed due to the people’s vigilance," Shamkhani, secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, was quoted as saying by Mehr news agency.

Iran’s neighbour Iraq has also recently been struck by anti-government protests, with demonstrators voicing resentment against what they describe as Tehran’s meddling in their country.

The full extent of the bloodshed in Iran remained difficult to ascertain given the near-total internet restriction.

Officials have confirmed five deaths, of four security personnel and one civilian. The United Nations human rights office has said it was alarmed by reports live ammunition had caused a "significant number of deaths".

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