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For first time, Iran admits security forces killed protesters

For first time, Iran admits security forces killed protesters
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(Bloomberg) — Iran for the first time acknowledged that its security forces shot and killed protesters last month during one of the most violent crackdowns on dissent since the 1979 Islamic revolution.

State television on Tuesday reported that “rioters” had been shot dead in several areas as they joined anti-government protests, including in Tehran, the capital, and Mahshahr in the country’s southwest. The latter has a sizable Arab population, and the report claimed security forces clashed with a separatist group there.

The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps said on Saturday that it was investigating reports that its forces had targeted and shot protesters, the semi-official Iranian Labour News Agency reported, citing Brigadier General Mohammadreza Yazdi.

Separately, official figures showed 300 protesters remain in custody in Tehran. Judiciary spokesman Gholam Hossein Esmaeili said most of those arrested during the unrest had been freed, and that the demonstrations have died down.

During a visit to London for a NATO summit, U.S. President Donald Trump commented on the dire situation and urged the world to take more notice. “Iran is killing perhaps thousands and thousands of people right now as we speak, that it why they cut off the internet so people can’t see what is going on,” he said on Sunday.

Young Iraqis carry a coffin of an anti-government demonstrator killed during protests a day earlier, during a funeral procession in the central holy shrine city of Najaf on November 29, 2019. Haidar Hamdani / AFP

Iran was rocked by protests in November after the government increased gasoline prices by as much as 300% and introduced rationing as the economy struggles under crippling U.S. sanctions meant to curtail Iranian influence in the Middle East and weaken its leadership. Authorities cut access to most of the internet as protests raged, making it difficult to track the violence and the government response.

The International Monetary Fund expects Iran’s recession to deepen this year, with gross domestic product contracting 9.5%.

Officials have put the death toll much lower.

With files from from Reuters

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