Security forces stepped in and fired tear gas and "plastic bullets" into a crowd of residents in Iran’s oil-rich Khuzestan province who were protesting lack of drinking water.
The residents of Gheizaniyeh district in the city of Ahvaz initially assembled in front of the district-governor’s office on Saturday, May 23, and then blocked the old Ahvaz-Mahshahr road, protesting the cut-off of drinking water in the area.
According to the daily Mardomsalari (Democracy), the security forces, supported by Special Unit police, rushed in and by firing tear gas ultimately managed to open Ahvaz-Mahshahr road.
Citing Ahvaz metropolitan police chief, the Islamic Republic's official news agency, IRNA, said, "the security forces superficially wounded two demonstrators with anti-riot plastic bullets".
"The two have been arrested, and have no physical problem", Colonel Mohsen Dalvand told IRNA.
Criticizing officials responsible for providing drinking water, Colonel Dalvand asserted, the "authorities' disregard for the people's demands" in Gheizanieh district led to the "illegal gathering" of residents of this district.
"If the authorities pay attention to the demands of the people, social problems will never turn into security issues" Dalvand said, adding, "Cutting off water in Gheizanieh is a good example of the authorities' carelessness about people's needs."
While Khuzestan provides most of the hard-currency earnings for Iran, its people complain about lack of investments to provide the basic needs of the population.
Mardomsalari's website says water shortage is a chronic problem in Gheizanieh district, with 83 villages and more than 25,000 population.
Meanwhile, the website says it has images of protesters shot in the feet.