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As protests turn violent, Iran warns protestors will pay

By Sheetal Sukhija, Southeast Asia News
01 Jan 2018, 01:35 GMT+10

TEHRAN, Iran - After anti-government protests in Iran turned violent, the Iranian government issued a stern warning on Sunday.

The government said that protesters will "pay the price" after two deaths of anti-government protesters was reported.

According to Iran's official news agency, IRNA, Iran’s Interior Minister Rahmani Fazli issued the warning on Sunday and said that the misuse of social networks by some individuals "are causing violence and fear," and that "such behavior will be smashed.” 

So far, over the last three days of protests in the country, anti-government protesters have largely relied on Twitter and Telegram social networks to spread information about the demonstrations. 

However, considering that the media coverage from inside Iran has largely been limited and official media outlets providing few details about the protests - global media has picked up statements and visual proof offered by demonstrators on Twitter and other social media site as to the situation on ground.

On Sunday, Fazli's comments were published by various state media outlets and the semi-official news agency ILNA quoted Fazli as saying, "The events and occurrences of the last few days have preoccupied, saddened and hurt our beloved people," adding "those who destroy public properties, create chaos, lawlessness and insecurity in our society, will be held legally responsible and must answer for their behaviors and pay the price for it."

Late on Saturday, two people were reportedly killed during protests in Doroud city, in the Lorestan province of western Iran.

The semi-official news agency Mehr News quoted Habibollah Khojastehpour, the deputy governor of Lorestan, as confirming the deaths but denying security forces were to blame.

However, several videos circulated on social media showing various people injured during protests in the city. 

The videos purportedly showed injured people lying on the ground and being carried away from the protest.

In one of the videos, gunshots could be heard.

Khojastehpour added that fire was not directed toward or into the crowds by the military, security or police forces.

He was quoted as saying, “Clashes occurred with individuals who had taken to the streets, heeding calls by the enemies of the system. The objective was to conclude this gathering peacefully but given the presence of the aforementioned individuals and groups, this tragedy unfortunately occurred that resulted in the killing of two individuals who were present at the clashes."

The protests, being staged in many cities of the country were initially focussed on the state of the economy, but soon turned into anti-government demonstrations, with some protesters directing their ire at Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei.

The protests throughout the country are being described as the largest public display of discontent since the 2009 Green Movement in Iran.

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