Iran says death toll in November protests was 230

Senior Iranian lawmaker says 230 people were killed and thousands injured in November protests sparked by a petrol price hike.

Tags: Iran protests
Elad Benari ,

Protest against increased gas price on a highway in Tehran
Protest against increased gas price on a highway in Tehran

A senior Iranian lawmaker said on Monday that 230 people were killed and thousands injured in November protests sparked by a petrol price hike, AFP reported, citing the state news agency IRNA.

It is the first time that an official in Iran has given overall casualty figures for the street violence.

"During these events 230 people were killed, six of whom were official agents and security forces," said Mojtaba Zolnour, head of the parliament's national security and foreign affairs committee.

"Twenty percent of them were forces keeping order and peace," he added, noting that they included "the police, security and intelligence forces, and the Basij" militia, some of which are not under government control and considered unofficial.

Those injured included about 2,000 people and 5,000 forces deployed to ensure law and order, the report added.

The unrest erupted on November 15, hours after it was announced that the price of gas would rise to 15,000 rials per liter (12 US cents) from 10,000 for the first 60 liters, and to 30,000 rials for any extra fuel bought after that each month.

Authorities restored order within days, but so far have confirmed just five deaths, including four members of the security forces killed by "rioters".

A report published in November and based on witness accounts and videos, said security forces responded to the protests by opening fire on unarmed protesters, largely unemployed or low-income young men between the ages of 19 and 26.

Officials had repeatedly rejected death tolls given by foreign media and human rights groups as "lies" and passed responsibility of reporting on it between different state bodies.

Amnesty International has put the number at 304, and a group of independent UN rights experts said in December that 400 including at least 12 children could have been killed based on unconfirmed reports.

The United States has claimed that more than 1,000 were killed in the violence.

Zolnour said that seven percent of the 230 were "those killed in direct confrontations with security forces" and were mostly "rioters armed with semi-automatic weapons and machineguns".

He added that 26 percent "were not among the rioters and killed over unknown reasons" such as "being shot from seven meters to the heart or to the temple from three meters away".

Zolnour claimed that those behind the violence had aimed to use the unrest to "overthrow" the system.

Iran blamed the unrest on "thugs" backed by its foreign enemies, including the US, Israel and the People's Mujahedeen of Iran, an exiled armed opposition group it considers a "terrorist" cult.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei claimed following the crackdown that his country had foiled a "very dangerous" plot in the violent demonstrations.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards arrested about 100 leaders of the protests and said they would act to severely punish them.

Iranian Vice-President Eshaq Jahangiri warned regional countries of “dire consequences” if it is proven that they meddled to stoke unrest in Iran.