Hundreds of banks and government sites burned in Iran unrest: Interior minister
Approximately 731 banks and 140 government sites were torched in recent unrest in Iran, Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli said in remarks published by the official IRNA news agency on Wednesday.
More than 50 bases used by security forces were attacked and approximately 70 gas stations were also burned, he said, without specifying where the attacks took place.
According to IRNA, Rahmani Fazli also said up to 200,000 people took part nationwide in the unrest that began on Nov. 15 after the announcement of gasoline price hikes.
Meanwhile, one lawmaker was quoted as saying authorities arrested more than 7,000 people, in a sign that Iran is beginning to acknowledge the scale of recent protests that swept across the Islamic Republic.
The comment by Hossein Naghavi Hosseini, who sits on parliament’s national security and foreign policy committee, came as Iran’s interior minister also alleged demonstrators wanted to take over state television.
Iran has yet to offer any definitive statistics for the unrest, which began Nov. 15 when officials sharply raised government-set gasoline prices.
London-based Amnesty International said on Monday it had recorded at least 143 protesters killed in the protests, the worst anti-government unrest in Iran since authorities put down the “Green Revolution” demonstrations against election fraud in 2009.
Iran has rejected Amnesty’s death toll. It says several people, including members of the security forces, were killed and more than 1,000 people arrested. The Center for Human Rights in Iran, a New York-based advocacy group, said the number of arrests was probably closer to 4,000.
Amnesty also reported that Iranian security forces shot unarmed protesters from a helicopter and rooftops.
The death toll continued to climb on Tuesday, with one Iranian opposition group saying as many as 400 Iranians had been killed.
The protests quickly turned political, with protesters calling on top leaders to step down. The government has blamed “thugs” linked to exiles and the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia for stirring up the street unrest.
The protests came as new US sanctions imposed this year cut off nearly all of Iran’s oil exports, and as similar protest movements erupted in Iraq and Lebanon against governments that include heavily armed pro-Iran factions.
- With AP