At least 106 protestors have been killed in 21 cities in Iran during unrest that broke out over fuel prices rises last week, Amnesty International said on Tuesday, Reuters reported.
“The organization believes that the real death toll may be much higher, with some reports suggesting as many as 200 have been killed,” Amnesty said in a statement.
Iran’s security forces said protesters had killed two police officers and at least five members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps and the paramilitary force known as the Basij, The New York Times writes.
The protests started last Friday in response to a sudden increase in gasoline prices, which ignited widespread anger amid an economic crisis that Iran’s president has called the worst in 40 years. The country is reeling from economic sanctions reimposed by the Trump administration after it pulled out of the nuclear deal with Iran.
The authorities moved swiftly to quash the protests, but they soon evolved into a broader, sometimes violent, movement against the government, flaring in cities around the country.
“There is no doubt these protests are serious, in terms of their scale and scope,” said Ali Vaez, director of the Iran program at the International Crisis Group. “The regime brought down the iron fist much faster. This, to me, indicates they want to nip it in the bud.”
As part of its crackdown, the government imposed a near-complete shutdown of the internet on Sunday, in an effort to limit protesters’ ability to organize and get out information, such as videos shared on social media and with news organizations outside Iran.
But the unrest has endured, and some Iranians have managed to circumvent the internet shutdown and send out video. Without providing specifics, Amnesty International said that its death toll was based on “credible reports” and that it had reviewed video and heard from witnesses in Iran, the Times adds.