AP: Authorities have arrested some 80 suspects on the charge of damaging gas stations and looting shops during last week’s protests against fuel rationing, state-run television reported Wednesday.
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) – Authorities have arrested some 80 suspects on the charge of damaging gas stations and looting shops during last week’s protests against fuel rationing, state-run television reported Wednesday.
The report was the first confirmation that people were arrested for protesting the new fuel rationing measures. Announced last Wednesday, the government’s rationing drove angry Iranians to smash shop windows and set fire to more than a dozen gas stations in the capital, Tehran, and several other cities.
Authorities could indict the suspects after watching video surveillance and security camera footage from the looted shops and damaged gas stations, state TV said.
Iran is one of the world’s biggest oil producers but has only nine refineries and must import more than 50 percent of the gasoline used by consumers.
The new rationing is part of a government effort to reduce from $10 billion to $6 billion the bill it faces each year for refined fuel imports. Fuel is sold at subsidized prices to Iranian drivers for far less than it costs.
Iranians are accustomed to cheap gasoline. After a 25 percent hike in prices imposed May 21, subsidized gas now sells at the equivalent of 38 cents a gallon.
The rationing system allows private drivers only 26 gallons of fuel per month at the subsidized price. Taxis get 211 gallons a month. Anything more than that will have to be bought at a higher price, which officials say will be announced within the next two months.