Khamenei backs Iran gasoline price hike, blames enemies for ‘sabotage’

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Sunday backed gasoline price increases that have sparked protests across Iran, blaming opponents of the Islamic Republic and foreign enemies for “sabotage”, state television reported, says Reuters.

“Some people are no doubt worried by this decision … but sabotage and arson are done by hooligans, not our people. The counter-revolution and Iran’s enemies have always supported sabotage and breaches of security and continue to do so,” Ayatollah Khamenei said, according to state TV.

Riot police and security forces clashed with demonstrators on Saturday in Tehran and dozens of cities across the country, Iranian news agencies and social media said, a day after the government increased the price of gasoline.

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Officials said on Saturday that one person was killed in the southeastern city of Sirjan, while social media reports referred to several other deaths as protests turned political.

Internet access in Iran was curbed after the protests at the order of a state security council, the semi-official news agency ISNA reported.

Iran protests in January 2018 - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

Iran protests – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

“Unfortunately some problems were caused, a number of people lost their lives and some centres were destroyed,” Khamenei said.

Khamenei said the increase in gasoline prices was based on expert opinion and should be implemented, but he called on officials to prevent hikes in prices of other goods.

The price of regular gasoline was raised to 15,000 rials ($0.13) a litre from 10,000 rials and rationed. Additional purchases would cost 30,000 rials per litre.

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