Officer killed, police stations STORMED by protesters amid anti-fuel hike rallies in Iran

A police officer has died in a hospital after being critically injured during unrest in western Iran. He attempted to defend a city police command that was invaded by an angry mob, local media report.

The incident took place in the city of Kermanshah – a capital of a western Iranian province bordering Iraq – which saw major demonstrations on Saturday. One such rally spiraled into violent clashes between the protesters and the police, and ended up with an armed mob storming the police station.

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The officer identified as Major Iraj Javaheri was inside the building and sought to stop the attackers but received a gunshot wound, Police Information Center spokesman, Commander Ali Akbar Javidan, told the local media. He was then rushed to a hospital, but succumbed to his injuries on Sunday night.

The attack on the police station in Kermanshah was not an isolated incident, as the protests sparked by a surprise gasoline price hike apparently grew increasingly violent. A footage obtained by RT Arabic shows a transport police headquarters in the city of Karaj, located just west of Tehran, burning, after it was supposedly stormed by violent protesters.

The video also shows some people hurling stones at the building, with its entrance blocked by boulders and litter. Public outrage was provoked by the government’s decision to raise gasoline price from 10,000 rials per liter to 15,000, which translates into about $0.13 a liter, or about $0.50 a gallon. Those who would like to buy more than 60 liters in a month, would also have to pay double price.

The move announced on Thursday was criticized by some Iranian clerics and secular officials and gave rise to demonstrations on Friday. The rallies were initially largely peaceful, but the public anger soon escalated into vandalism and clashes between demonstrators and police.

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Iranian protesters gather around a burning motorcycle during a demonstration against an increase in gasoline prices. ©AFP
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On Sunday, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei blamed violence during the rallies on criminal and foreign influence, while backing the government’s decision. He also confirmed that some people died in the protests. Earlier, the Iranian authorities said that one person was killed in the southeastern city of Sirjan.

Sirjan’s acting Governor Mohammad Mahmoudabadi also told journalists that some violent elements within a largely “calm gathering” damaged public property, including fuel stations, sought access to a local oil company’s major fuel depots and even set them on fire.

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