Iran racked by protests after massive gas price hike

Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei threw his support behind a decision to impose petrol price hikes and blamed

Protesters also set fire to a police station in the city of Karaj and to cars or buildings in several other cities.

A road is blocked by protesters.

Iranian internet access was curbed this week on the orders of a state security council, the semi-official news agency ISNA reported, a move apparently aimed at preventing protesters from communicating with each other and sharing video on social media.

'Some people would definitely get upset over this decision. but damaging and setting fire (to property) is not something (normal) people would do.

Khamenei also pointed at opponents overseas in what he called "the centers of the world's wickedness".

In the province of Sirjan at least one person has been killed, the region's government has said.

Speaking during a meeting with clerics at his Islamic Thoughts lecture in the capital Tehran, Khamenei blamed the protests on "hooligans" and "Iran's enemies".

Similar scenes were witnessed in the cities of Shiraz, Isfahan and Bushehr, where security forces fired tear gas and water cannon at demonstrators. Most were not locals, he added.

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The Intelligence Ministry said those behind the unrest "have been identified" and that measures will be taken against them, according to ISNA.

While representing a political risk for President Hassan Rouhani ahead of February parliamentary elections, they also show widespread anger among Iran's 80 million people who have seen their savings evaporate amid scarce jobs and the collapse of the national currency, the rial.

The current internet black-out seems to be one of the strictest in the past decade.

"Upon the decision of the Security Council of Iran and communicated to internet operators, access to internet has been limited as of last night and for 24 hours", it quoted what it called an informed source at the information and communications technology ministry as saying.

The protests have put renewed pressure on Iran's government as it struggles to overcome the USA 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.

After two days of intermittent government slowdown of the internet amid widespread protests in Iran, internet services were nearly completely stopped Saturday evening, plunging the country into cyber darkness.

Inflation is high as much as 40 per cent and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicted that the country's growth will shrink 9 per cent in 2020 and stagnate in 2020.

"Internet blockage observatory NetBlocks said on Twitter late yesterday: "#Iran is now in the midst of a near-total national internet shutdown; realtime network data show connectivity at 7 per cent of ordinary levels after 12 hours of progressive network disconnections as public protests continue".

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