REG Iran..-1574333022564
A bank that was attacked and burned during protests over rises in government-set gasoline prices, remains closed, in Tehran, Iran, Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2019. Demonstrations struck at least 100 cities and towns, spiraling into violence that saw banks, stores and police stations attacked and burned. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi) Image Credit: AP

Tehran: A near-total internet blackout remained in effect on Thursday, with Iranians abroad tweeting hashtags like #Internet4Iran and calling for an end to the outage, now in its fifth day.

Iran’s state TV has not aired any new footage of the unrest since Wednesday, focusing rather on “spontaneous” pro-government rallies in several cities across the country.

The United Nations human rights office has said it was alarmed by reports live ammunition had caused a “significant number of deaths”.

Officials have confirmed five deaths, including of three security personnel stabbed by “rioters”.

London-based rights group Amnesty International said more than 100 demonstrators were believed to have been killed and that the real toll could be as high as 200.

The full extent of the bloodshed was difficult to ascertain given the internet restrictions.

Meanwhile, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards on Thursday praised the armed forces for taking “timely” action against “rioters” and said calm had returned after days of unrest sparked by a hike in petrol prices.

The protests erupted across the sanctions-hit country on November 15, hours after the price of petrol was raised by as much as 200 percent.

Motorists blocked highways in Tehran before the unrest spread to cities and towns across the country, with petrol pumps torched, police stations attacked and shops looted.

Protest leaders were arrested by the Guards’ intelligence arm in the province of Tehran and Alborz as well as in the southern city of Shiraz, according to the statement.