Iran has slammed a US show of support for “rioters,” after violent protests sparked by a decision to impose petrol price hikes and rationing in the sanctions-hit country.
Major roads have been blocked, banks torched and public buildings attacked in the nationwide unrest that has left at least two dead -- a civilian and a policeman.
Footage of the violence showing masked young men on debris-strewn streets setting buildings ablaze has been aired on state television, which rarely shows any signs of dissent in the country.
Demonstrations broke out on Friday after it was announced that the price of petrol would be raised by 50 percent for the first 60 litres and 200 percent for any extra fuel after that each month.
The authorities in the Islamic republic say they have arrested more than 200 people and restricted internet access.
The Basij militia, whose commander Brigadier General Gholamreza Soleimani said “America’s plot (had) failed”, reported looting, according to semi-official news agency ISNA.
The situation on the streets was unclear yesterday morning, largely due to the internet outage that has stemmed the flow of videos shared on social media of protests or associated acts of violence.
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.
The United States on Sunday condemned Iran for using “lethal force” against demonstrators.
“The United States supports the Iranian people in their peaceful protests against the regime that is supposed to lead them,” White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement.
Iran’s foreign ministry slammed US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo after he tweeted “the United States is with you” on Saturday in response to the demonstrations.
“The dignified people of Iran know well that such hypocritical remarks do not carry any honest sympathy,” ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi was quoted as saying.
Berlin yesterday urged Iran to respect the “legitimate” protests against the petrol price hike and open talks with the demonstrators.