Amnesty International said at least 143 people were killed in the protests against increased fuel prices, a toll rejected by Tehran. Up to 200,000 people took part nationwide in the unrest, Iranian Interior Minister Rahmani Fazli said.

In this November 20, 2019 file photo, people walk near a bank that was burnt during protests against increased fuel prices in Tehran, Iran.
In this November 20, 2019 file photo, people walk near a bank that was burnt during protests against increased fuel prices in Tehran, Iran. (Reuters)

Iran’s supreme leader on Wednesday said recent protests across the country were part of a “conspiracy” involving the US, as authorities began to acknowledge the scale of the demonstrations.

One lawmaker quoted as saying authorities arrested more than 7,000 people.

The comment by Hossein Naghavi Hosseini, who sits on parliament’s national security and foreign policy committee, came as Iran’s interior minister also alleged demonstrators wanted to take over state television.

Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli offered no evidence for his claim during an interview aired late Tuesday night on Iranian state television. Protests weren’t reported around state TV’s headquarters in northern Tehran.

Iran has yet to offer any definitive statistics for the unrest, which began on November 15 when officials sharply raised government-set fuel prices.

London-based Amnesty International said on Monday it had recorded at least 143 protesters killed in the protests, the worst anti-government unrest in Iran since authorities put down the "Green Revolution" demonstrations against election fraud in 2009.

Iran has rejected Amnesty's death toll. It says several people, including members of the security forces, were killed.

'Hundreds of banks and government sites burned'

Approximately 731 banks and 140 government sites were torched in the recent unrest in Iran, Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli said in remarks published by the official IRNA news agency on Wednesday.

More than 50 bases used by security forces were attacked and approximately 70 fuel stations were also burned, he said, without specifying where the attacks took place.

According to IRNA, Rahmani Fazli also said up to 200,000 people took part nationwide in the unrest.

The protests quickly turned political, with protesters calling on top leaders to step down.

The government has blamed "thugs" linked to exiles and the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia for stirring up the street unrest.

The protests came as new US sanctions imposed this year cut off nearly all of Iran's oil exports, and as similar protest movements erupted in Iraq and Lebanon against governments that include heavily armed pro-Iran factions. 

Source: AP