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Iran unrest has killed 'at least 208': Amnesty

By AFP

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Iranians walk past the branch of a local bank that was damaged during demonstrations against gasoline price hikes, on November 20th in Shahriar, west of Tehran. [Atta Kenare/AFP] 

At least 208 people are believed to have been killed during a crackdown on protests in Iran last month that followed a fuel price hike, Amnesty International said Monday (December 2nd).

"The number of people believed to have been killed during demonstrations in Iran that broke out on November 15th has risen to at least 208, based on credible reports received by the organisation," the rights group said.

The actual death toll is likely higher, it added.

The new toll ups the number of deaths according to Amnesty by almost 50, with the organisation saying dozens were recorded in Shahriar city in Tehran province, "one of the cities with the highest death tolls".

Protests erupted after the shock announcement of a fuel price hike, but were quickly quashed by authorities who also imposed a week-long near-total internet blackout.

Amnesty's research and advocacy head for the Middle East Philip Luther called the number of deaths "evidence that Iran’s security forces went on a horrific killing spree".

He called on the international community to ensure those responsible are held accountable.

"The deaths have resulted almost entirely from the use of firearms," Amnesty said previously.

According to collected information, the rights group said, "families of victims have been threatened and warned not to speak to the media, or to hold funeral ceremonies for their loved ones".

"Some families are also being forced to make extortionate payments to have the bodies of their loved ones returned to them," it added.

'Deliberate cover-up'

Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Wednesday (November 27th) accused the Iranian authorities of "deliberately covering up" deaths and arrests during its crackdown on protests.

Iran on Saturday disputed death tolls issued abroad for the bloodshed, after Amnesty said in a Friday report that 161 demonstrators had been killed.

The demonstrations flared in mid-November, after the price of gasoline in the Islamic republic went up overnight by as much as 200%.

The unrest broke out hours after it was announced that the price of gas would rise to 15,000 rials per litre ($0.12) from 10,000 for the first 60 litres, and to 30,000 rials for any extra fuel bought after that each month.

Officials in Iran have yet to say how many people died in the ensuing violence.

Iran's deputy interior minister, Jamal Orf, disputed the figures, accusing the sources that reported the figures of "exaggerating" them.

The governments of the US, France and Germany have condemned Iran over the bloodshed.

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