Guards warn protesters of 'decisive' action

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DUBAI: Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guards warned anti-government protesters of “decisive” action if unrest over gasoline price hikes do not cease, state media said, in a hint that a harsh security crackdown could be on the cards.
The protests have spread across the Islamic Republic since Friday, turning political with demonstrators demanding that top clerical leaders step down. At least 100 banks and dozens of buildings and cars have been torched, state media reported. The scale of the unrest triggered by announcements of fuel rationing and price rises of at least 50 percent remains unclear as authorities have curbed Internet access to stop the use of social media to organise rallies and disseminate videos. “If necessary we will take decisive and revolutionary action against any continued moves to disturb the people’s peace and security,” the Revolutionary Guards, Iran’s heavily armed main security force, said in a statement carried by state media.
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Sunday blamed the turmoil on Iran’s opponents and foreign foes, denouncing protesters who attacked public property as “thugs” and “hooligans”.
Meanwhile, Iran condemned the United States’ support for “rioters” in a statement issued late Sunday, after two days of violent protests in the Islamic republic against a petrol price hike.
The foreign ministry said that it was reacting to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s “expression of support… for a group of rioters in some cities of Iran and condemned such support and interventionist remarks”.
Protests erupted in Iran on Friday, hours after it was announced the price of petrol would rise to 15,000 rials a litre (12 US cents) from 10,000 for the first 60 litres and to 30,000 rials for any extra fuel bought after that each month.–Agencies