Middle East

At least one dead in southern Iran protest: Fars news agency

ANKARA (Reuters) – At least one person was killed in Iran’s southern city of Kazeroon when protesters set fire to a police station, the semi-official Fars news agency reported on Thursday.

It said the protest on Wednesday night had left at least one person dead and at least six others wounded.

“A small number of people gathered to protest against a decision made by local officials to divide some districts of Kazeroon and merge them into a new town,” Fars reported.

Iran’s ruling elite are anxious to prevent any repeat of unrest in late December, when people staged demonstrations in 80 cities and towns over poor living standards, some calling on Shi’ite Muslim clerical leaders to step down.

The semi-official Tasnim news agency on Thursday published a statement by the Interior Ministry.

“The ministry urges the wise people of Kazeroon to be alert against plots of the opposition groups and enemies of Iran,” it said.

Those who wanted to “create disorder and harm the national security will be firmly confronted legally”, it added.

A local official said the situation was under control in Kazeroon but “there were still sporadic protests”, the Iranian Students News Agency reported.

Fars rejected as “false and exaggerated” reports by some opposition groups that several people had been killed in clashes with security forces and dozens arrested.

Tasnim said peaceful protests had been taking place for weeks over the decision in Kazeroon, 900 km (560 miles) south of Tehran.

“The protests … ended after authorities promised to stop changing the city’s map,” it reported.

“But people are upset as the government has yet to announce its decision about the division of the city.”

The Interior Ministry statement said the plan had been suspended for “attentive review aimed at taking people’s logical demands into account”.

Some videos on social media showed security forces firing tear gas. There were also photos of bodies and injured people. Their authenticity could not be verified by Reuters.

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani has assured Iranians that their oil-reliant economy can withstand new sanctions, after the United States walked out of Iran’s nuclear deal with major powers on May 8.

U.S. President Donald Trump has said he will impose “the highest level of economic sanctions” on Tehran.

The European signatories of the deal are scrambling to keep it alive and protect their Iranian trade.

(Writing by Parisa Hafezi; editing by Andrew Roche)

 

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