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Internet returns in 10 Iranian provinces after shutdown over protests
Iranian youths with their smart phones in northern Tehran’s Mellat Park on August 3, 2016. (File photo AFP)

The internet in Iran has returned in 10 provinces, the official news agency IRNA reported on Saturday after a five-day-long nationwide shutdown meant to help stifle protests against fuel price hikes.

Telecoms operators were informed of the decision to restore the Internet service for landline telephones, the IRNA news agency reported.

According to the agency, the Internet service has returned to the provinces of North Khorasan, South Khorasan, Golestan, Semnan, Yazd, Jharmhal, Bakhtiari, Hamdan, Ardabil, Zanjan and Ilam.

The Revolutionary Guards said calm had returned across Iran, state TV reported. Amnesty International said over 100 demonstrators had been killed by security forces, a figure rejected as “speculative” by the government.

“The internet is being gradually restored in the country,” the semi-official news agency Fars said, quoting unidentified informed sources.

Fars quoted the sources as saying the National Security Council that had ordered the shutdown approved reactivating the internet in “some areas and, according to reports so far, fixed-line internet has been restored in Hormozgan, Kermanshah, Arak, Mashhad, Qom, Tabriz, Hamadan and Bushehr provinces, and parts of Tehran”.

“We again have the internet as of an hour ago,” a retired engineer, who declined to be named, said by telephone from Tehran.

The internet blockage made it difficult for protesters to post videos on social media to generate support and also to obtain reliable reports on the extent of the unrest.

Internet blockage observatory NetBlocks said the restoration of connectivity in Iran covered only about 10 percent of Iran.

News agencies and residents said only fixed-line internet, not mobile internet, was partially restored.

Protests began on Nov. 15 in several provincial towns after the government announced gasoline price hikes of at least 50 percent. They spread to 100 cities and towns and quickly turned political with protesters demanding top officials step down.

US President Donald Trump on Thursday criticized Iran for blocking the internet.

“Iran has become so unstable that the regime has shut down its entire Internet System so that the Great Iranian people cannot talk about the tremendous violence taking place within the country,” Trump tweeted.

“They want ZERO transparency, thinking the world will not find out the death and tragedy that the Iranian Regime is causing!” he added.

The International Monetary Fund said it regretted the violence and loss of life during the protests and had not discussed the gasoline price hike with Iran.

source: Reuters