Iran’s Basij militia said the nationwide unrest sparked by fuel price hikes amounted to a “world war” against the Islamic republic that had been foiled.
The protests erupted across the sanctions-hit country on November 15, after the price of gas was raised by as much as 200 percent.
Authorities said leaders of the protests in which police stations were attacked, gas 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 feared paramilitary arm of the Revolutionary Guard Corps.
Quoted by semi-official news agency ISNA late Thursday, Abnoosh said interrogations had revealed that 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 more than 100 demonstrators and up to 200 were believed to have been killed.
The extent of the bloodshed was difficult to confirm because of internet cuts, which Abnoosh, said had helped “disrupt” efforts by Iran’s foes.
ISNA said internet access and connectivity via ADSL had now been partially restored in a number of provinces and for some universities in Tehran.