Iranian security forces may have killed more than 1.000 people in response to recent protests over gasoline-price hikes, a United States’ official warned.

“As the truth is trickling out of Iran, it appears the regime could have murdered over a thousand Iranian citizens since the protests began,” US envoy to Iran, Brian Hook, said on 5 December.

Protests have been held across the country since 15 November, with people attacking banks, police stations and gas stations, followed by a major crackdown and internet blackout. Human rights watchdog Amnesty International repeatedly warned of the rising death toll, a number the government rejected as “fabricated”. Iran said the price increase was to compensate for US sanctions devastating its oil-based economy, and the money would be given to the poor people.

“They’re killing a lot of people and they’re arresting thousands of their own citizens in a brutal crackdown”, said US President Donald Trump, and warned that any new threat from Iran “will be met very strongly”.

Tehran has given no official death toll. Iran’s mission to the UN did not immediately respond to a request for comment.