DUBAI, United Arab Emirates -- Iranian police opened fire late Sunday night amid protests against water shortages in southwestern Iran, a video showed, the latest unrest after days of demonstrations that have seen at least one person killed.
The video from the Human Rights Activists News Agency by Human Rights Activists in Iran showed the shooting in Susangerd, which has been an epicenter of demonstrations in Iran's restive Khuzestan province.
A police officer fires into the air with a pistol and at least one other shot can be heard in the footage. Riot police on motorcycles race around a corner, firing at the protesters.
The video corresponded to other Associated Press reporting of the demonstrations in Khuzestan, home to ethnic Arabs who complain of discrimination by Iran’s Shiite theocracy. The video also matched known features of Susangerd and the protest depicted took place where other demonstrations occurred in recent days.
On Sunday, the deputy governor of Khuzestan province in charge of security affairs acknowledged the unrest had killed at least one person. The state-run IRNA news agency quoted Valiollah Hayati as blaming “rioters” for killing a citizen in the city of Shadegan in Khuzestan. Iran's government long has blamed protesters for deaths during demonstrators in unrest, despite its history of bloody crackdowns.
Arab separatists have long operated in Khuzestan, which Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein tried to seize in his 1980s war with Iran. They have blown up oil pipelines in the past and have been blamed for attacks, including a 2018 assault on a military parade that killed at least 25 people in Ahvaz.
Water worries in the past have sent angry demonstrators into the streets in Iran. The country has faced rolling blackouts for weeks now, in part over what authorities describe as a severe drought. Precipitation had decreased by almost 50% in the last year, leaving dams with dwindling water supplies.
The protests in Khuzestan come as Iran struggles through repeated waves of infections in the coronavirus pandemic and as thousands of workers in its oil industry have launched strikes for better wages and conditions.
Iran’s economy also has struggled under U.S. sanctions since then-President Donald Trump’s 2018 decision to unilaterally withdraw America from Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers, crashing the value of he Islamic Republic’s currency, the rial.