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DUBAI: Iranian security forces fired live rounds and tear gas to disperse anti-government protesters in several provinces on Thursday, according to posts on social media, as protests triggered by rising food prices continued to spread.

Iranians took to the streets last week after a cut in food subsidies caused prices to soar by as much as 300% for some flour-based staples. The protests quickly turned political, with crowds calling for an end to the Islamic Republic, echoing unrest in 2019 which began over fuel prices hike.

Social media footage not verified by Reuters showed at least six people killed and dozens injured in past days. There has been no official comment on any death toll.

On Thursday footage posted on social media showed intense clashes in cities including Farsan in central Iran, where riot police fired live rounds at demonstrators. In Shahr-e Kord and Hafshejan, security forces used teargas and clubs to disperse the protesters.

“Fear not, fear not, we are in this together,” demonstrators in the southern city of Dezful could be seen chanting in one video.

Reuters was unable to verify the authenticity of the social media footage cited.

Senior police official Qasem Rezai warned on Thursday that “illegal gatherings were intolerable and will be confronted,” according Iran’s semi-official ILNA news agency.

The government last week acknowledged the protests but described them as small gatherings. Iranian state media reported last week the arrests of “dozens of rioters and provocateurs”.

Iran’s rulers fear a revival of the 2019 protests, the bloodiest in the Islamic Republic’s history, although the authorities have dismissed reported death tolls including more than 300 according to Amnesty International, and a Reuters account of 1,500 killed.

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