Iran disputes ‘exaggerated’ protest death tolls
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Iran disputes ‘exaggerated’ protest death tolls

Amnesty International’s revised death toll shows some 160 people were killed in this month’s demonstrations, but deputy interior minister claims statistics are not credible

Protesters attend a demonstration after authorities raised gasoline prices, in the northern city of Sari, Iran, November 16, 2019. (Mostafa Shanechi/ ISNA via AP)
Protesters attend a demonstration after authorities raised gasoline prices, in the northern city of Sari, Iran, November 16, 2019. (Mostafa Shanechi/ ISNA via AP)

TEHRAN — Iran on Saturday disputed death tolls issued abroad for bloodshed that erupted during protests in the country over fuel prices, after a rights group said over 160 demonstrators were killed.

The demonstrations flared in mid-November, after the price of petrol in the Islamic republic went up overnight by as much as 200 percent.

Officials in Iran have yet to say how many people died in the ensuing violence that saw banks, petrol pumps and police stations set on fire.

London-based human rights group Amnesty International said in a tweet on Friday that the crackdown claimed the lives of 161 demonstrators.

But Iran’s deputy interior minister, Jamal Orf, disputed such figures.

“Statistics by international organizations on those killed in the recent incidents are not credible,” he was quoted as saying by state news agency IRNA.

Orf accused the sources that reported the figures of “exaggerating” them.

The prosecution service, he added, was set to announce the figures based on those it receives from the coroner’s office.

An Iranian man checks a scorched gas station that was set ablaze by protesters during a demonstration against a rise in gasoline prices in Eslamshahr, near the Iranian capital of Tehran, November 17, 2019. (AFP)

Prior to its latest tweet, Amnesty International said on Monday that 143 demonstrators had been killed in the crackdown, citing what it called “credible reports.”

The governments of the United States, France and Germany have condemned Iran over the bloodshed.

The unrest broke out on November 15, hours after it was announced that the price of gas would rise to 15,000 rials per liter (12 US cents) from 10,000 for the first 60 liters, and to 30,000 rials for any extra fuel bought after that each month.

Iran’s economy has been battered since last year, when President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the United States from a 2015 nuclear agreement and reimposed crippling sanctions on the Islamic republic.

The government in Tehran said proceeds from the fuel price hike would go to the most needy people in the country.

Iranian protesters gather around a fire during a demonstration against an increase in gasoline prices in the capital Tehran, on November 16, 2019. (AFP)

According to IRNA, the payments have since been made in three installations between November 18 and 23.

This week an Iranian lawmaker said authorities arrested more than 7,000 people in the wake of the protests.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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