Iran says 'world war' against it foiled
Tehran: Iran's Basij militia said the unrest sparked by fuel price hikes amounted to a "world war" against Tehran that was thwarted, pointing the finger of blame at Washington, Riyadh and Israel.
The protests erupted across the sanctions-hit country on November 15, after the price of petrol was raised by as much as 200 per cent.
Authorities said some of the protest leaders in which police stations were attacked, petrol pumps torched and shops looted had been arrested.
"A full-fledged world war against the system and the revolution was born and fortunately the child died at the moment of birth," said Brigadier General Salar Abnoosh, a deputy head of the Basij, an Islamic volunteer militia. Quoted by semi-official news agency ISNA late Thursday, Abnoosh said interrogations had revealed a "coalition of evil" made up of "Zionists, America and Saudi Arabia" was behind the "sedition".
The United Nations human rights office, for its part, has said it was alarmed by reports that live ammunition used by security forces to quell the unrest had caused a "significant number of deaths".
Officials have confirmed five deaths, while Amnesty International said that more than 100 demonstrators were believed to have been killed and the real death toll could be as high as 200. Iran's Revolutionary Guards said that during the unrest, "incidents ... caused by the rise in petrol price took place in (a little) less than 100 cities".
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", it said.
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