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Iran arrests several after protests at drying lake

TEHRAN (AFP) – Iranian police have arrested several people for disturbing security after they protested the drying up of a lake once regarded as the Middle East’s largest, official media said yesterday.

Lake Urmia, in the mountains of northwest Iran, began shrinking in 1995 due to a combination of prolonged drought, and the extraction of water for farming and dams, according to the United Nations (UN) Environment Programme.

Urmia, one of the largest “hypersaline” – or super salty – lakes in the world, is located between the cities of Tabriz and Urmia, with over six million people dependent on agriculture around its shores.

Yesterday Iran’s West Azerbaijan province Police Chief Rahim Jahanbakhsh reported the arrests.

He described the suspects as “many evil and hostile elements, who had no other objective than to destroy public property and disturb the security of the population”, according to state news agency IRNA.

File photo of Iran’s Lake Urmia. PHOTO: AFP