Published: Sun, September 23, 2018
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Iran's Rouhani fumes at USA after Ahvaz parade attack

Iran's Rouhani fumes at USA after Ahvaz parade attack

A deadly terrorist attack Saturday on a military parade in the southwestern Iranian city of Ahvaz, in a province bordering Iraq with many Sunni Arabs, has left at least 25 dead and 60 others injured, according to Iranian news agencies.

However, Iran faced a bloody assault previous year from the Islamic State group, and Arab separatists in the region have attacked oil pipelines there in the past.

The 29 people killed in the shooting attack in Ahvaz included at least 10 members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard.

The Guards play a big role in Iran's regional interests and have a vast stake worth billions of dollars in Iran's economy.

On Saturday, the London-based Iran International TV aired an interview with Yaqoub Hor Altostari, presented as a spokesman for ADPF, indirectly claiming responsibility for the attack and calling it "resistance against legitimate targets".

The allegation will nearly certainly ratchet up tensions with Iran's regional rival Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies, who along with the United States have been working to isolate the Islamic Republic.

He then said that the attack was executed by national resistance individuals without specifying whether his group had any specific knowledge on which group carried out the attack.

Earlier reports on Saturday described the assailants as Takfiri, a term previously used to describe Islamic State.

Mobile phone footage published by the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency showed members of Iran's IRGC and army forces in dress uniform scrambling to the ground while gunfire erupted around them.

Ahvaz is in the centre of Khuzestan province, where there have been sporadic protests by minority Arabs in predominantly Shi'ite Iran.

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"Iran neither put its defensive arms aside nor lessens its defensive capabilities", Rouhani said.

The event was to mark the anniversary of the Islamic Republic's 1980-88 war with Iraq.

The attack in Ahvaz saw gunfire sprayed into a crowd of marching Revolutionary Guardsmen, bystanders and government officials watching from a nearby riser.

Four attackers were involved and three of them have been killed by security forces who were on the scene and another was in custody in hospital after being wounded, Shekarchi said. "European soil", official news agency IRNA quoted foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi as saying.

Who does Iran blame for the attack?

"Gulf countries", Iranian military spokesman Abolfazl Shekarchi told the official news agency IRNA.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif blamed regional countries and their "U.S. masters" for funding and arming the separatists, issuing a stark warning as regional tensions remain high in the wake of the USA withdraw from the Iranian nuclear deal.

Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi later said the UAE ambassador would be summoned over "partial statements" in support of the group behind the attack, without elaborating. The two regional powers back opposing sides in the conflicts in Yemen and Syria as well as rival political groups in Iraq and Lebanon.

Who is behind the attack?

Saturday's attack comes after a coordinated Islamic State assault on parliament and the shrine of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in Teheran in June previous year.

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