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US says Iran may have killed more than 1,000 people in recent unrest

U.S. Special Representative for Iran and Senior Policy Advisor to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Brian Hook speaks at the announcement of the creation of the Iran Action Group in the Press Briefing Room, at the Department of State, August 16, 2018. (U.S. State Department/Flickr)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

Iranian security forces may have killed more than 1,000 people in response to recent protests over gasoline-price hikes, a senior U.S. State Department official said on December 5.

“As the truth is trickling out of Iran, it appears the regime could have murdered over a thousand Iranian citizens since the protests began,” Brian Hook, Washington’s special representative for Iran, told journalists.

U.S. President Donald Trump blasted Tehran for cracking down on protests and said the United States will stand with protesters.

“They’re killing a lot of people and they’re arresting thousands of their own citizens in a brutal crackdown,” Trump said at a meeting with UN diplomats at the White House.

Calling it a “horrible situation,” Trump warned that any new threat from Iran “will be met very strongly.”

Protests erupted on November 15 after the government announced a fuel-price hike of up to 200 percent but were quickly stifled by security forces. A week-long near-total Internet blackout was also imposed.

Hook said U.S. officials have seen video of one incident in the southwestern city of Noshahr in which the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps had mowed down at least 100 people with machine-gun fire.

“In this one incident alone, the regime murdered as many as 100 Iranians and possibly more,” Hook said, without displaying the video.

That video was one of tens of thousands the United States has obtained since Secretary of State Mike Pompeo appealed last month for Iranians to submit evidence of atrocities by the government in putting down the protests, Hook said.

“We have seen reports of many hundreds more killed in and around Tehran,” he said. “And, as the truth is trickling out of Iran, it appears the regime could have murdered over 1,000 Iranian citizens since the protests began.”

Hook said the dead include 13- and 14-year-old children.

There has been no widely accepted claim matching Hook’s death toll of more than 1,000.

Amnesty International said on December 2 that at least 208 people are believed to have been killed during the crackdown.

There was no immediate reaction to Hook’s comments on state media in Iran. Tehran’s mission to the UN did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Iranian authorities have yet to publish any definitive official death toll for the unrest that saw protesters attack police stations, torch petrol pumps, and loot shops.