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Amnesty Ups Death Toll in Iran Protests to 304

The human rights watchdog Amnesty International reported Monday that at least 304 protesters were killed in anti-government protests in Iran last month. This is a significant increase over its previous estimate, that at least 208 were killed in the four days of violence beginning November 15. Demonstrations in several cities and towns throughout the Islamic Republic were sparked by a sharp rise in the price of gasoline and rooted in discontent with a failing economy in a country reeling from US sanctions. Iranian authorities, in an attempt to prevent protesters from organizing and spreading their message, and to limit news coverage of the violence, blocked internet access for a number of days. Amnesty says that Iranian security forces opened fire on unarmed protesters and arrested thousands of protesters, journalists, human rights activists and students. The Iranian government has acknowledged that its forces killed demonstrators while quelling the unrest but has not published official statistics on the number of casualties.