Police reportedly fire on protesters during fresh unrest in Iran
Iranian Labor News Agency via AP
Demonstrators clashed with police for the second day in a row in Iran's southwest on Saturday during protests against water shortages and economic malaise.
Videos uploaded by Iran Wire, a website critical of Iran's clerical regime, and shared widely across social media purported to show protests in the southern city of Khorramshahr during Saturday evening.
In several of the videos, people can be seen running from the sound of gunfire. According to a citizen journalist quoted by the website, the source of the shots were police officers who opened fire on the protests.
A later video shared online by the website showed unidentified men armed with rifles and reported that unknown people had also fired toward police.
Some reports Sunday morning said at least one protester was killed in the clashes. Iran's Interior Minister dismissed them as "rumors."
“There was not a single death case," Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli was quoted as saying by Fars news agency. "There was one case of injury last night that [the victim] has been taken to the hospital."
Khorramshahr is a largely Arab city straddling the border with Iraq. According to Iran Wire, residents of the town also protested on Friday against the quality of drinking water and were dispersed with tear gas.
The state-run IRNA news outlet reported that protesters were ordered to disperse after throwing stones and setting fires in Khorramshahr.
A wave of protests that erupted late last year lasted for weeks, during which thousands of Iranians took aim at the government's policy of supporting military endeavors elsewhere in the Middle East while living standards at home show little improvement.
Earlier this week new demonstrations saw many shops close in Tehran's main bazaar, whose shopkeepers wield political influence.
They were chiefly angry over the collapse in the Iranian riyal, whose value against the dollar has tumbled.
Iran briefly entered a period of confidence after it signed the 2015 nuclear agreement with world powers that saw crippling sanctions lifted in exchange for curbs on Tehran's nuclear program, however significant economic growth failed to materialize.
Some sanctions remained, spooking foreign investors, while Iran's leaders have also failed to expand the country's relatively small private sector.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose governments are both fiercely critical of Iran's rulers, both praised the protests.
Earlier on Saturday Iran's top religious and political figurehead Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said that US sanctions were intended to cleave the Iranian people from their rulers, but that they would not succeed in doing so.
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