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Iran unrest: New protests as Rouhani plays down violence

January 1, 2018 3:39 pm

There are reports of protests breaking out in Iran for a fifth day, despite a statement from the president that the unrest “is nothing”.

Anti-government chanting and burning cars were reported as night fell in the capital, Tehran, with other demonstrations across the country.

President Hassan Rouhani said protests were an “opportunity, not a threat” but vowed to crack down on “lawbreakers”.

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The US meanwhile stepped up support for the protesters’ “bold resistance”.

The protests began last Thursday in the city of Mashhad, initially against price rises and corruption but now with wider anti-government sentiment.

The latest reports speak of a heavy police presence in the capital. The Mehr news agency reported a taxi being set alight. Police had used tear gas and water cannon the previous evening to quell a rally in Tehran’s Engheleb Square.

State media were also reporting that shots had been fired at police in Najafabad, near Isfahan in central Iran, killing one officer and wounding three.

Social media postings spoke of fresh protests in Birjand in the east, Kermanshah in the west and Shadegan in the far south-west.

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