At least five people were killed on Wednesday (27 December) after anti-riot troops in the Iranian capital, Teheran opened fire on each other in a chaotic incident at the climax of hours of heavy shooting and street disorders.
At least five people were killed on Wednesday (27 December) after anti-riot troops in the Iranian capital, Teheran opened fire on each other in a chaotic incident at the climax of hours of heavy shooting and street disorders. The violence coincided with the announcement by the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) that oil products would be rationed in the country, because of a strike by oil workers.
SYNOPSIS: Several thousand demonstrators had marched peacefully behind an ambulance carrying the body of a 28-year old university professor shot dead on Tuesday (26 December), when shooting broke out among soldiers. According to Reuters News Agency, one soldier refused to fire at anti-Shah protesters and shot his commanding officer instead. He was then shot himself, apparently by another officer. Then troops shot at demonstrators.
The shooting in the centre of Teheran was the worst incident in a day of wild rioting. Many trucks, buses and cars were set ablaze in the streets, and there were running battles between soldiers and stone-throwing protesters Business life was at a virtual standstill, with most shops and offices closed. The most severe economic blow comes from striking oil workers. Iran, the world's second largest producer had to suspend exports, as production slumped to 500,000 barrels, 100,000 barrels less than domestic needs, and less than 10 percent of normal production.
According to Reuters, Teheran hospital officials put the death toll in Wednesday's riots at seven, but some demonstrators claim it may be higher. Wednesday's riots marked the fifth consecutive day of anti-Shah demonstrations in Iran in defiance of Martial Law. Foreign diplomats say Iran's political crisis could soon reach a climax.
Meanwhile the United States confirmed its support for the Shah. And South Africa, which is one of the main importers of Iranian oil is reported to be considering petrol rationing after the country's suspension of oil exports.