Iran Protests: Price Hikes Prompts Rare Demonstrations

By NASSER KARIMI -- The Associated Press

TEHRAN, Iran -- An Iranian news agency reports people have poured into the streets of a northeastern city to protest a steep hike in the price of chicken.

Protesters blamed mismanagement by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's administration, but the rare demonstration could be an indication of effects of Western sanctions over Iran's suspect nuclear program.

The sanctions have led to collapse of Iran's currency and to subsidy cuts, raising prices of basic commodities.

The Monday report by the semiofficial ISNA news agency said people gathered in main square of Nishabur, a city of 270,000 about 950 kilometers (600 miles) east of Tehran.

The report said officials pledged to solve the problem. There were no reports of arrests or violence.

Over the past two months, the price of chicken in Iran has more than doubled.