Trump slams Iran over ‘big numbers’ killed in protest crackdown
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Trump slams Iran over ‘big numbers’ killed in protest crackdown

As reported death toll in recent unrest rises above 200, US president says Iranians being killed ‘for the mere fact that they’re protesting’

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

LONDON — US President Donald Trump on Tuesday denounced Iran’s crackdown on anti-government protesters, as rights groups said the death toll had soared.

Protests erupted in Iran on November 15 after an announcement that gasoline prices were going up by as much as 200 percent with immediate effect.

“Iran is killing perhaps thousands and thousands of people right now as we speak,” Trump told reporters in London ahead of a NATO summit.

“That’s why they cut off the internet. They cut off the internet so people can’t see what’s going on.

“And frankly, I don’t know how you get in there, I don’t know how you do your business but the press ought to get in there and see what’s going on.”

US President Donald Trump at Winfield House, London, December 3, 2019. (Nicholas Kamm/AFP)

Trump added: “The word is that thousands of people are being killed in Iran that are protesting.

“Not just small numbers, which are bad; big numbers, which are really bad — and really big numbers.”

Asked if there was more that the United States could do, he replied: “I’d rather not say right now.

“It’s a terrible thing and I think the world has to be watching.

“But many, many people are being killed in Iran right now for protesting. For the mere fact that they’re protesting.”

Banks and gasoline stations were torched and shops looted in the violence which was quickly quashed by authorities who also imposed a week-long, near-total internet blackout.

Iranians walk past the branch of a local bank that was damaged during demonstrations against gasoline price hikes, on November 20, 2019 in Shahriar, west of Tehran. (Atta Kenare/AFP)

London-based human rights group Amnesty International said on Monday that at least 208 people were killed in the crackdown.

Iran on Tuesday rejected as “utter lies” unofficial casualty figures given for the street violence.

The authorities have not yet provided any overall death toll for the unrest.

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