Iranians have defeated the “enemy’s conspiracy” and were celebrating their victory, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said Wednesday.
“This time around the people have been victorious against the riots that were the enemy's conspiracy to create insecurity," Rouhani said in remarks at a meeting of his cabinet aired on national television.
Demonstrations broke out in the Islamic Republic on Friday after it was announced the price of gasoline would be immediately raised by as much as three times.
“The Iranian people have again succeeded in a historic test and shown they will not let enemies benefit from the situation, even though they might have complaints about the country’s management,” Rouhani said.
Iran has blamed “thugs” linked to exiles and foreign enemies – the United States, Israel, and Saudi Arabia – for the protests.
"Those anarchists who came out onto the streets were few in number," he said.
"They were organized, armed anarchists" who took to the streets "based on a plot that the region's reactionary [regimes], the Zionists and Americans had hatched", he said, referring to Saudi Arabia, Israel and the US.
Enemy pushed back
Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei said on Tuesday the protests had been a security matter, not a popular movement, and had been dealt with successfully.
"We have pushed back the enemy in the military arena. We have pushed back the enemy in the political war. We have repelled the enemy in the arena of security warfare... in recent days," Ayatollah Khamenei said.
"The recent actions were security issues, not from the people," he said. "We have repelled the enemy."
Swiss envoy summoned
Iran’s Foreign Ministry summoned the Swiss ambassador in Tehran on Wednesday over US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s support for rioters.
Iran told the Swiss envoy, who represents US interests in the Islamic Republic because Iran and the United States do not have formal diplomatic ties, that the official US statements were an interference in Iran’s internal affairs.
Fars News Agency reported Iranian dual nationals were among protesters arrested in the northern province of Alborz.
Quoting security sources, Fars said detained German, Turkish, and Afghan dual nationals had been trained and funded by foreign services to take actions to destroy infrastructure and stir up civil disobedience.
These dual nationals had special equipment to be used for sabotage, it added.
"You've seen in recent days huge spontaneous gatherings were held in various cities," including Zanjan, Tabriz, and Shahr-e Kord among others, Rouhani said.
"This is the biggest display of the power of the nation of Iran,” he added.
"That is to say that the nation of Iran has shown the world its vigilance, awareness, unity and solidarity with the entire system" of the Islamic Republic, Rouhani said.
Government spokesman Ali Rabiei said a plot to bomb Iran's major gas production installations in Assalouyeh on the Persian Gulf had been thwarted.
Thousands of Iranians also joined pro-establishment rallies in several cities on Wednesday.
National television showed rallies in Rasht, Gorgan, and Ardebil in the north, Hamedan and Khorramabad in the west, and Shahriar, southwest of the capital Tehran, where a member of the security forces was killed in the turmoil.
Iranian TV carried pictures of Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, marching in Shahriar behind a banner that read “Death to America and Israel’s deception!”
In Malard, a county in southwest of Tehran, residents laid to rest three serviceman and a civilian killed during the unrest.
High death toll ‘fabricated’
The protests began with motorists blocking major roads in the capital Tehran and elsewhere. They spread to at least 40 cities and towns, with petrol pumps torched, police stations attacked, and shops looted.
Officials have confirmed five deaths, including three security personnel stabbed by "rioters."
Amnesty International claimed at least 106 protesters in 21 cities had been killed, according to witness reports, verified videos, and information from human rights activists.
Iran's mission to the United Nations dismissed Amnesty's report as "speculative, not reliable" and "baseless allegations and fabricated figures."
"The baseless allegations and fabricated figures by biased Western entities do not shake government's determination in making prudent economic decisions while respecting human rights of its people including to freely exercise their right to protest in a peaceful environment,” mission spokesman Alireza Miryousefi tweeted.
The government said the price rises were intended to raise around $2.55 billion a year for extra subsidies to 18 million families struggling on low incomes.
AFP, Reuters, and Press TV contributed to this report.