Rouhani says 'enemy conspiracy' defeated in protest-hit Iran

AFP Tehran, Iran Nov 20, 2019, 04.18 PM(IST)

File photo. Photograph:( AFP )

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Demonstrations broke out in the Islamic republic on Friday after it was announced the price of petrol would be immediately raised by as much as 200 per cent.

Iranians have defeated the "enemy's conspiracy" and were celebrating their victory, President Hassan Rouhani said Wednesday after deadly nationwide protests against a petrol price hike.

Demonstrations broke out in the Islamic republic on Friday after it was announced the price of petrol would be immediately raised by as much as 200 per cent.

"Our people have been victorious against... the enemy's conspiracy," Rouhani said in remarks at a meeting of his cabinet aired on state television.

"Those anarchists who came out onto the streets were few in number," he said.

"They were organised, armed anarchists" who took to the streets "based on a plot that the region's reactionary, the Zionists and Americans had hatched," he said, referring to Saudi Arabia, Israel and the United States.

"You've seen in recent days huge spontaneous gatherings were held in various cities," including Zanjan, Shahr-e Kord and Zanjan among others, Rouhani said.

"This is the biggest display of the power of the nation of Iran.

"That is to say that the nation of Iran has shown the world its vigilance, awareness, unity and solidarity with the entire system" of the Islamic republic, he added.

The protests began with motorists blocking major roads in the capital Tehran and elsewhere.

They spread rapidly to at least 40 cities and towns, with petrol pumps torched, police stations attacked and shops looted.

Officials have confirmed five deaths, including three security personnel stabbed by "rioters".

But London-based rights group Amnesty International said Tuesday that more than 100 demonstrators were believed to have been killed.

The full extent of the bloodshed is difficult to ascertain given a near-total internet blackout, now in its fourth day.