Clashes in Iran over fuel price hike kills one

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One person was killed in the Iranian city of Sirjan during protests that erupted after President Hassan Rouhani’s government imposed gasoline rationing and price hikes of at least 50 percent.

The government announced on Friday that the price of a liter of regular gasoline would increase to 15,000 rials ($0.13 cents) from 10,000 rials and the monthly ration for each private car was set at 60 liters. Additional purchases would cost 30,000 rials per liter.

The measure by a top decision making economic council sparked angered across the country. Iranians have faced economic pressure since last year when President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Iran nuclear deal and reimposed sanctions on the country.

“One person was killed in Sirjan but … we are investigating whether he was killed by the security forces who were trying to bring back calm to the city,” Mohammad Mahmoudabadi said.

He said several people were wounded when masked armed men infiltrated the protests in Sirjan and clashed with security forces. “Security forces were not allowed to shoot at people … The situation is calm in the city now,” he added.

Report said during the “severe” protests in Sirjan “people attacked a fuel storage warehouse and tried to set fire to it”.

Washington’s policy of applying “maximum pressure” on Iran has severely impacted the country’s oil revenues, sent its economy into recession and devalued its national currency.

The protests continued on Saturday, reports say. Members of the public also posted videos on social media that showed police firing teargas to disperse protesters in several cities across Iran, where many people see cheap gasoline as a national right.

Iranians mainly rely on cars or taxis for access around cities and towns. The government said the cost of using taxis and public transport will not change, report says.

Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh said that the measure was aimed at “reining in soaring consumption, exporting gasoline and helping needy families”.

The move is expected to raise around $2.55 billion a year for additional subsidies for 18 million families, or about 60 million Iranians on lower-incomes, the government said.

Many Iranians are frustrated because of the sharp devaluation of Iran’s rial currency and spikes in the prices of bread, rice and other staples since reimposition of U.S. sanctions on Iran.

Olusola Akintonde