Amid Deaths, Iran Warns Protesters Will 'Pay the Price'
2 people killed overnight as minister says 'such behavior will be smashed'
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 31, 2017 5:33 AM CST
Anti-riot Iranian police prevent university students to join other protesters over Iran weak economy, in Tehran, Iran, Saturday, Dec. 30, 2017. A wave of spontaneous protests over Iran's weak economy...   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Two protesters taking part in demonstrations roiling Iran since Thursday were killed overnight, semi-official news agency Mehr reported Sunday, the first deaths attributed to the ongoing protests. In response, Tehran warned that protesters would "pay the price," reports CNN. Interior Minister Rahmani Fazli told official news agency IRNA that some "are causing violence and fear" and that "such behavior will be smashed." In Doroud, in Iran's western Lorestan province, the AP reports that protesters gathered for an unauthorized rally that lasted into the night Saturday. Mehr quoted Habibollah Khojastepour, the security deputy of Lorestan's governor, as saying the illegal gathering ignited clashes. The two protesters were killed in the clashes, he said. "The gathering was to be ended peacefully, but due to the presence of the (agitators), unfortunately, this happened," he said.

He did not offer a cause of death for the protesters, but said "no bullets were shot from police and security forces at the people." Videos circulating on social media late Saturday appeared to show fallen protesters in Doroud as gunshots sounded. The AP could not immediately verify the footage. The protests in the Iranian capital, as well as President Trump tweeting about them, raised the stakes. It also apparently forced state television to break its silence on Saturday, acknowledging it hadn't reported on the protests on orders from security officials. On Sunday, ILNA reported that authorities have arrested some 80 protesters in the city of Arak, some 170 miles south of Tehran. While the protests have sparked clashes, Iran's hard-line paramilitary Revolutionary Guard and its affiliates have not intervened as they have in other unauthorized demonstrations since the 2009 election.


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