Iran has arrested three workers at a major power plant for allegedly causing power outages on purpose, a news agency affiliated with the Revolutionary Guards reported on Thursday, following protests this week in several cities over repeated blackouts.
“Three personnel of one of the most important power plants in the country, which is responsible for generating and supplying electricity to large cities, were identified and arrested ... for cooperating with counter-revolutionary groups,” the semi-official Fars news agency reported, quoting an “informed source.”
Iran uses the term “counter-revolutionary” to refer to groups and individuals opposed to the Islamic Republic.
The arrested individuals had been coordinating with opposition groups and were working to “create frequent power outages in some big cities” by sabotaging the power plant they worked at, Fars quoted the source as saying.
The Fars report did not provide any further details, and there has been no official comment on the report as of yet.
Protests broke out in several cities in Iran this week over repeated power outages, videos posted on social media showed, with some protests turning political with chants against the country’s highest authority, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.
Iranian state media, which rarely covers news of protests, reported on Monday on protests in several cities in northern Iran.
“Protesters said the frequent power outages had caused many problems, including water cuts in apartments, spoilage of meat and poultry and other items in refrigerators, and damage to household appliances,” the semi-official ISNA news agency reported from the northeastern town of Kordkuy.
Officials have blamed the blackouts on a severe drought and surging demand for power.
President Hassan Rouhani apologised to Iranians on Tuesday over the power outages.
“I apologise to our dear people who have faced problems and suffering in the past few days and I urge them to cooperate (by curbing power use). People complain about power outages and they are right,” Rouhani said during a cabinet meeting that was broadcast live on state TV.
“The Energy Ministry is not at fault ... but the minister should come and explain to the people what the problem is, and we have to find a solution,” said Rouhani.