Iran’s supreme leader has supported the government’s decision to increase petrol prices and says those protesting against the hikes are “bandits” backed by the enemies of Iran.
The comments by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei came a day after protesters angered by a 50 per cent rise in government-set petrol prices blocked traffic in major cities and occasionally clashed with police.
That came after a night of demonstrations punctuated by gunfire, in violence that reportedly killed at least one person.
The report quoted Khamenei as saying that those violent protesters were supported by counter-revolutionaries and Iran’s enemies abroad. Khamenei also acknowledged some were upset about the higher prices.
He urged security forces to “implement their tasks,” without elaborating.
Khamenei’s comments suggest authorities may be preparing to quash the demonstrations that began on Friday and quickly spiralled across the country.
The protests have put renewed pressure on Iran’s government as it struggles to overcome the US sanctions strangling the country’s economy after President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew America from Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers over a year ago.