Khamenei blames counter-revolution, enemies for 'sabotage' in Iran gasoline price protests

Protests in cities across the country
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei gives a speech to a group of scholars and seminary students of religious sciences in Tehran, Iran September 17, 2019. Official Khamenei website/Handout via REUTERS

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SULAIMANI — Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Sunday (November 17) backed gasoline price increases that have sparked protests across Iran, blaming opponents of the Islamic Republic and foreign enemies for “sabotage,” state television reported.

“Some people are no doubt worried by this decision ... but sabotage and arson is done by hooligans not our people. The counter-revolution and Iran’s enemies have always supported sabotage and breaches of security and continue to do so,” Ayatollah Khamenei said, according to state TV.

“Unfortunately some problems were caused, a number of people lost their lives and some centers were destroyed,” Khamenei said, according to Reuters.

Officials said on Saturday one person was killed in the southeastern city of Sirjan, while social media reports referred to several other deaths as riot police and security forces clashed with demonstrators in Tehran and dozens of cities across Iran on Saturday as protests turned political.

There were unofficial reports of at least twelve people being killed.

Khamenei said the increase in gasoline prices was based on expert opinion and should be implemented, but he called on officials to prevent hikes in prices of other goods, the TV added.

Internet access has been curbed in Iran at the order of a state security council, the semi-official news agency ISNA reported, following two days of protests against the rise in gasoline prices and rationing.

(NRT Digital Media/Reuters)

This story was updated at 9:35 am EBL