Fri, 07 Aug 2020

Iranian state television acknowledged security forces shot and killed what it described as "rioters" in multiple cities amid recent protests over the spike in government-set petrol prices.

It was the first time authorities offered any sort of accounting for the violence used to put down the deadly demonstrations.

The acknowledgement came in a television broadcast on Tuesday that criticised international Farsi-language channels for their reporting on the crisis, which began on November 15.

The state television report described the killings in four categories, alleging some of those killed were "rioters who have attacked sensitive or military centres with firearms or knives, or have taken hostages in some areas".

'Armed struggle'

The report described others killed as passers-by, security forces, and peaceful protesters without assigning blame for their deaths.

Iran has yet to release any nationwide statistics over the unrest that gripped the nation with minimum prices for government-subsidised gasoline rising by 50 percent.

What's more, Iran shut down internet access amid the unrest, blocking those inside the country from sharing videos and information, as well as limiting the outside world from knowing the scale of the protests and violence.

"For hours, armed rioters had waged an armed struggle," the report said.

"In such circumstances, security forces took action to save the lives of Mahshahr's people."

Mahshahr in Iran's southwestern Khuzestan province was believed to be hard hit in the crackdown.

'Fabricated' death toll

Amnesty International on Monday said it believes at least 208 people were killed in the protests and the crackdown that followed.

Iranian officials disputed Amnesty's findings on Tuesday, though no evidence was offered to support the denials.

"I explicitly announce that the numbers and figures that are being given by hostile groups are utter lies and the statistics have serious differences with what they announced," judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili said.

"They announced some numbers as well as some names... Their claimed numbers are shear lies and fabricated," he said in remarks aired on state television.

"The names they have given are also lies," Esmaili said, adding they included people who were still alive and others who passed away of natural causes.

"We've seen over 200 people killed in a very swift time, in under a week," said Mansoureh Mills, an Iran researcher at Amnesty.

"It's something pretty unprecedented event in the history of the human rights violations in the Islamic Republic."

Iranian state television separately acknowledged confronting "rioters" in Tehran, as well as in the cities of Shiraz and Sirjan

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