The demonstrations on Friday night were “severe” in Sirjan, central Iran, as “people attacked a fuel storage warehouse in the city and tried to set fire to it,” state news agency IRNA said.
IRNA reported “scattered” protests also broke out in other cities including Abadan, Ahvaz, Bandar Abbas, Birjand, Gachsaran, Khoramshahr, Mahshahr, Mashhad and Shiraz.
The government limited fuel consumption to 60 liters per vehicle per month, down from a prior limit of 250 liters. Prices have spiked over 50% to 15,000 rials (€0.12, $0.13). Every liter above 60 is subject to a penalty cost of 60,000 rials.
The move left drivers waiting hours in lines at gas stations. Many people said they were shocked when they went to refuel their vehicles. Police were deployed near gas stations to keep order.
In Mashhad, Iran’s second-largest city, dozens of angry demonstrators blocked roads by abandoning their cars in traffic.
Iran’s economy has been battered since May last year when President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from a 2015 nuclear agreement and reimposed crippling sanctions.
The rial has plummeted in value against the US dollar, inflation is now running at more than 40 percent and the International Monetary Fund expects Iran’s economy to contract by nine percent this year and stagnate in 2020.
Iranian authorities have disrupted internet access across multiple cities, including Tehran, amid widespread protests over fuel rationing and price hikes of more than 50 percent.
#IRGC murderers are opening fire on protesters on orders from the Iranian Regime’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, &targeting Iranian youth.#IRGC forces have shot &killed eight young protesters in the cities of Sirjan, Behbahan(3), Karaj,Shiraz,Khorramshahr &Marivan.#FreeIran #MEK pic.twitter.com/jrN4WAIHUK
— NCRI-FAC (@iran_policy) November 16, 2019
According to cybersecurity NGO NetBlocks, online users first reported outages in the city of Mashhad, which saw internet connectivity drop beginning Friday evening:
“Network data from the NetBlocks internet observatory confirm disruptions with multiple fixed-line and mobile providers in Iran, amid protests against rising fuel prices. The outages have a partial impact at the time of writing affecting multiple cities including Tehran.
“Users first reported outages in Mashhad, which has also seen a drop in connectivity beginning on the evening of Friday 15 November. The disruptions have increased in extent and severity as of 21:15 UTC Friday (12:45 a.m. local time), continuing as of 00:00 UTC Saturday, with impact also visible on overall connectivity charts.”