Police official: Officer killed by armed rioters in western Iranian city

Press TV – A police officer has been killed in Saturday’s riots in Iran’s western province of Kermanshah by armed rioters taking advantage of post-gasoline rationing protests, the local police chief says.

Quoted by Fars news agency on Sunday, Ali Akbar Javidan, the Kermanshah Province police chief, said Brigadier General Iraj Javaheri was gunned down during the riots in the provincial capital of the same name when trying to head off armed rioters who attempted to conquer a police station on Saturday.

The victim was immediately transferred to a hospital but succumbed to his wounds early Sunday, the provincial police chief said.

Javidan emphasized that police would firmly confront any individual who attempts to create chaos and insecurity in the society and will not allow these people — who are few in number — to cause disorder.

On Friday, Iran began rationing gasoline and substantially increased the price of fuel, saying the revenue would be used to assist the needy.

The National Iranian Oil Products Distribution Company (NIOPDC) said in a statement late Thursday that the price of a liter of regular gasoline had gone up to 15,000 rials (12.7 US cents) from 10,000 rials and the monthly ration for each private automobile was set at 60 liters per month. Additional purchases would cost 30,000 rials per liter.

The decision sparked rallies in a number of Iranian cities, some of which were marred by violence as opportunist elements tried to exploit the situation and ride the wave of peaceful protests against hiking fuel prices.

Consequently, the demonstrations turned violent in some cities, with reports of clashes between security forces and certain elements vandalizing public property.

On Sunday, Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei backed a recent government decision to ration gasoline and increase its price.

Ayatollah Khamenei said while he is not an expert in the field, he still supports the decision which has been made by the three branches of power — namely, executive, legislative and judicial.

“The heads of power branches have sat down and made a decision supported by experts. The decision must be implemented,” the Leader said.

Referring to breakout of violence in some cases of post-gasoline rationing protests, the Leader said, “Yesterday, last night and the night before, there were, unfortunately, problems in some cities. Some people lost their lives and some centers were destroyed.”

Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli has said security forces have so far shown restraint after protesters blocked traffic in a few cities and clashed with police.

In one southern town, protesters tried to set fire to an oil depot but were stopped by police.

‘Counter-revolutionary elements behind post-rationing violence’

Iranian Police Chief Brigadier General Hossein Ashtari said investigations showed that counter-revolutionary elements have had a hand in the post-rationing violence, adding that security and police authorities would soon identify and punish them, the Fars news agency report.

Ashtari said everyone is legally bound to comply with the gasoline rationing decision as the measure has the approval of the three branches of the government.

He noted that the Iranian people will never allow certain individuals to exploit their sentiments.

Delivering a stern warning, the police chief said those who attempt to disrupt order or violate people’s rights would be dealt with in accordance with law.

“We will not allow peace and security — which are well prevailing in the country — to be disrupted,” he added.

Intelligence Ministry warns rioters

Meanwhile, Iran’s Intelligence Ministry said on Sunday that it gives priority to earlier remarks by Ayatollah Khamenei about the recent incidents in the country, calling on all the country’s authorities to fulfill their duties in this regard.

In a statement, the ministry said it is duty-bound to firmly deal with the thugs and anyone who creates insecurity in the country.

It noted that the main agents behind the protests over the past two days have been identified and proper measures have been adopted in that regard, whose results would later be announced.

The ministry has a religious and national duty to establish security and calm for the Iranian nation and will certainly spare no efforts to that effect, the statement said.