White House condemns Iran for ‘lethal force’ against protesters
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White House condemns Iran for ‘lethal force’ against protesters

Washington says it ‘supports the Iranian people in their peaceful protests against the regime’; two people confirmed killed

Iranians gather around a charred police station that was set ablaze by protesters during a demonstration against a rise in gasoline prices in the central city of Isfahan on November 17, 2019. (AFP)
Iranians gather around a charred police station that was set ablaze by protesters during a demonstration against a rise in gasoline prices in the central city of Isfahan on November 17, 2019. (AFP)

WASHINGTON, United States — The White House on Sunday condemned protest-hit Iran for using “lethal force” against demonstrators during unrest that left two dead — a civilian and a policeman — and saw authorities arrest dozens and restrict internet access.

“The United States supports the Iranian people in their peaceful protests against the regime that is supposed to lead them,” White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement.

“We condemn the lethal force and severe communications restrictions used against demonstrators.”

The unrest erupted on Friday, hours after it was announced that the price of gas would rise to 15,000 rials per liter (12 US cents) (44 cents per gallon) from 10,000 for the first 60 liters, and to 30,000 rials for any extra fuel bought after that each month.

It is a rise many consumers can ill afford, given that Iran’s economy has been battered since May of last year, when US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the US from a 2015 nuclear agreement and reimposed crippling sanctions.

Access to the internet was restricted a day after the demonstrations broke out.

A policeman was shot in a clash with “rioters” in the western city of Kermanhshah on Saturday and died the following day, provincial police chief Ali Akbar Javidan said, according to IRNA state news agency.

Several people were also wounded and dozens arrested in the demonstrations that saw motorists block highways and others torch public property.

Some of the worst violence seen so far was in the central city of Sirjan, where acting governor Mohammad Mahmoudabadi said a civilian was killed and fuel stations were among the public property attacked and damaged.

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