Iranian demonstrators clash with police for a second night
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Iranian demonstrators clash with police for a second night

A day after 11 people hurt by gunfire while protesting water scarcity, state media says authorities dispersed crowd in southwestern province

A still from video shared on social media showing protests in the Iranian city of Khorramshahr, on June 30, 2018. (screen capture: Twitter/BBC)
A still from video shared on social media showing protests in the Iranian city of Khorramshahr, on June 30, 2018. (screen capture: Twitter/BBC)

TEHRAN, Iran — Protesters clashed with security forces in southwestern Iran late Sunday, a day after several demonstrators were injured in nighttime skirmishes over water pollution, Iranian state media reported.

The latest protests were held in Abadan, 12 kilometers (eight miles) from Khorramshahr, where 11 people were hurt Saturday when an unidentified gunman opened fire during a demonstration, according to officials.

State-run IRNA news agency did not specify how many people were involved in the Abadan demonstration, but said security forces had broken up a crowd that was “disrupting public order.”

It said people protesting over poor water quality in a western district of the city had thrown projectiles and set fire to garbage bins and a vehicle.

The report says police blocked roads near the protest and that the situation is “under control.”

Iranian protesters in central Tehran on June 25, 2018. (AFP Photo/Atta Kenare)

The agency did not report any further injuries, but added that water pollution in the two cities of Khuzestan province had sparked several demonstrations over the past four days.

Abadan is home to Iran’s biggest oil refinery. The province was devastated by the eight-year war between Iran and Iraq in the 1980s and suffers from chronic pollution and drought.

It has a largely Arab population that has long complained of official discrimination.

Iranian Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli on Sunday denied reports carried by Saudi media that as many as four people were killed in the Saturday clashes in Khorramshahr.

Iranian Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli speaks during a press conference in Tehran, Iran, April 13, 2015. (Ebrahim Noroozi/AP)

The protesters set fire to dumpsters and damaged public property, prompting police to fire tear gas to disperse them, state-run IRNA news agency said Sunday.

The unrest erupted after some 500 people, mostly youth, gathered at a main square in the city to protest against pollution that is seeping into the city’s drinking water network, IRNA reported.

Iran has been facing mounting economic woes since the United States in May pulled out of a 2015 accord between Tehran and world powers that had lifted international sanctions in exchange for curbs on the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program.

Iran’s currency has plunged almost 50 percent in value in the past six months against the US dollar, and inflation is on the rise.

On Sunday, Vice President Eshagh Jahangiri said in statements broadcast on state television that Iran is suffering from several problems, not just US sanctions.

Among Iran’s “woes,” he cited its dependence on oil revenues along with a weak private sector and a fragile banking sector.

Industry Minister Mohammad Shariatmadari told a news conference in Tehran on Saturday that the situation was not “critical” but “special.”

He urged foreign firms working in Iran to resist US “threats” of sanctions and to continue doing business in the country.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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