Security forces have foiled the attempted assassination of Ayatollah Mohammad Reza Nasseri-Yazdi, the local representative of Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei in Yazd, central Iran on Monday, the Islamic Republic News Agency has reported.
According to the agency, multiple attackers armed with knives and bladed weapons attempted to enter Nasseri-Yazdi’s home, but were spotted by the Imam’s bodyguards, who detained four would-be assassins, with several other attackers managing to escape.
Along with the suspects, knives, a sword, and a stolen motorcycle were said to have been handed over to local authorities.
It’s not immediately clear whether the assassination attempt was connected to the ongoing protests and riots over the government’s decision to raise gasoline prices, although it was reported Sunday that some 40 people were arrested in the city of Yazd following clashes with police. Authorities said most of the detained individuals were not locals, and that they were arrested after carrying out acts of vandalism, instead of joining peaceful protests taking place in other areas of the city.
Iran’s government announced that it would raise the price of petrol by 50 percent for the first 60 litres, and 300 percent for anything above that, in a bid to increase revenues to help low-income families and raise the equivalent of about $2.7 billion to help balance the economic situation amid US sanctions pressure, which has led to a drop in Iran’s oil exports and cut the country’s ability to engage in international trade.
Earlier Monday, Iranian authorities reported that several law enforcement officers had been attacked and killed in rioting, with at least one protester also killed during clashes in the city of Sirjan, southern Iran. Amid the violence, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards warned that they would take “decisive and revolutionary action” against protesters if the violence continued.
Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei doubled down on the move to increase fuel prices, saying that although Iranians had the right to express anger over the price hike, “sabotage and arson are done by thugs, not our people.” Khamenei added that such acts of sabotage were supported by “Iran’s enemies.”