Iranian police officer killed during riots in troubled southwest in amid ongoing water shortages
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – An Iranian police officer was killed during riots in the country’s troubled southwest amid ongoing water shortage demonstrations, state media reported on Wednesday, increasing the death toll in the riots to at least two people.
The shooting killed a police officer in the town of Mahshar, and another sustained a gunshot wound to the leg, the state-run IRNA news agency reported.
The report blamed the “rioters” for the murder, without explanation. According to Iranian media reports, another man has already been seen in the protests. Iran has in the past blamed protesters for deaths that occurred amid heavy actions by security forces.
Protests lasted six days in Iran’s oil-rich province of Khuzestan, home to ethnic Arabs who complain about discrimination against Iran’s Shiite theocracy.
Concern for water in the past has sent angry protesters to the streets of Iran. The country has been facing constant blackouts for weeks, in part because of what authorities describe as a severe drought. Precipitation has decreased by almost 50% in the last year, leaving dams with dwindling water supplies.
The protests in Khuzestan are coming as Iran struggles with repeated waves of contagion in the coronavirus pandemic and as thousands of workers in its oil industry launch strikes for better wages and conditions.