At least four protesters were reported killed in Iran as regime forces opened fire on demonstrators rallying against a water shortage in the city of Khorramshahr.
Vidoes shared on social media late Saturday night appeared to show Iranian forces opening fire on protesters in the Arab-majority city, in the oil-rich southwestern Khuzestan region.
The reporters shooting comes after several days of unrest centered in Tehran where thousands have protested the country’s economic woes, including the collapse of the Iranian rial following the US withdrawal from the nuclear deal.
The Saudi-based al Arabiya news outlet reported four people had been killed in Khorramshahr Saturday.
There was no confirmation of the death toll.
The BBC’s Persian service reported one person had been killed, citing eyewitnesses.
Video circulated by the news outlet appeared to show automatic gunfire as people protested in the streets. Fire could also be seen as well as people fleeing after tear gas was fired.
تیراندازی در خرمشهر
شاهدان عینی از وقوع تیراندازی در خرمشهر، چهارراه مطهری خبر دادهاند
خرمشهر در روزهای اخیر شاهد برگزاری تجمعات اعتراضی بوده. این ویدیوها را مخاطبان از ناآرامیهای امشب فرستادهاند pic.twitter.com/g8L4fwnsK9
— BBC NEWS فارسی (@bbcpersian) June 30, 2018
The state-run IRNA news outlet reported that protesters were ordered to disperse after throwing stones and setting fires in Khorramshahr.
Protests in Khorramshahr and other surrounding towns have continued for several days over what residents say is a lack of clean drinking water.
Protesters have blamed mismanagement for exacerbating a drought in the area, leaving little desalinated water for drinking or agriculture.
Protesters in Khoramshahr and nearby Abadan have reportedly begun chanting against the regime in the protests, including “death to Khamenei” joining demonstrators in Tehran and other towns angry over the country’s sinking financial fortunes.
— منم اسپارتاكوس (@manamspartakus) June 30, 2018
Iranians have been hit by rising prices, and record levels of unemployment have left a third of under-30s out of work.
On Monday, traders at Tehran’s Grand Bazaar staged a rare strike.
At the end of last year, similar economic protests roiled Iran and spread to some 75 cities and towns, becoming the largest demonstrations in the country since its 2009 disputed presidential election. The protests in late December and early January saw at least 25 people killed and nearly 5,000 arrested.
Slogans chanted by the crowds in the recent economic protests, which have leaked out to the world via social media, show that many Iranians blame their own government’s foreign policies for the downturn.
The protests have seen unusual scenes of demonstrators chanting against continued Iranian spending of billions of dollars on regional proxy wars and support for terrorist groups, which many say has meant less investment in the struggling economy at home.
In recent years, Iran has provided financial aid to Palestinian terror groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad, Lebanon’s Hezbollah, Yemen’s Houthi rebels, and Shiite militias in Iraq. Since the start of the Syrian civil war in 2011, Tehran has poured a reported $6 billion into propping up president Bashar Assad’s government.
This week’s protests in Tehran and around the country — including economically hard-hit cities like Kermanshah in western Iran — included shouts of “Death to Palestine,” “No to Gaza, no to Lebanon,” and “Leave Syria and think of us.” Chants of “We don’t want the ayatollahs” and “Death to the dictator” were also heard at some rallies.
The protests signaled growing domestic unease in the wake of Trump’s decision to withdraw America from Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers and restore sanctions on the country.
In the last six months, Iran’s currency has lost almost 50 percent of its value, with the US dollar now buying around 85,000 rials on the open market.