Unknown gunmen 'kill, injure several' in attack on Iranian army parade

Elias Hubbard
September 23, 2018

Writing on Twitter, Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif blamed "a foreign regime" backed by the United States for the attack.

There are conflicting reports on the death toll and wounded in the carnage.

The attackers disguised themselves as members of the elite Revolutionary Guards and volunteer forces before launching the assault in the city of Ahvaz.

"The injured are in a crucial state", the deputy governor of Khuzestan province, Ali-Hossein Hosseinzadeh Hosseinzadeh, told the semi-official news agency ISNA. The news agency said the number of dead may increase.

State television aired footage of the aftermath of the assault on Ahvaz's Quds, or Jerusalem, Boulevard, which like many other places around the country saw an annual parade marking the start of Iran's long 1980s war with Iraq. The separatists are previously only known to have conducted oil pipeline bombings at night, the AP reports. Earlier, state television claimed that Sunni "takfiri terrorists" had carried out the assault.

State TV hours later reported that all four gunmen had been killed, with three dying during the attack and one later succumbing to his wounds at a hospital.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack in Iran's southwest.

Iran's 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 will face pressure to respond to the high-profile attack on the Revolutionary Guards, the strategic force with the greatest commitment to the clerical leadership.

In one video posted online, soldiers participating in the parade initially seemed confused about the source of the gunfire.

The official state news agency IRNA said 53 people had also been wounded and that many were in a critical condition. Those dignitaries were not harmed in the attack, it said. Ahvaz is in the centre of Khuzestan province, which has been the site of sporadic protests by Iran's Arab minority.

Local journalist Behrad Ghasemi told AFP that firing continued for between 10 and 15 minutes and said at least one of the attackers was wearing a Revolutionary Guards uniform.

On June 7, 2017, 17 people were killed and dozens wounded in simultaneous attacks in Tehran on the parliament and on the tomb of revolutionary leader Ruhollah Khomeini - the first inside Iran claimed by IS.

Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif blamed the bloodshed on "regional terror sponsors", language that usually refers to Iran's enemies Saudi Arabia and Israel, and "their U.S. masters", and vowed that Tehran would respond decisively.

But attacks on regime targets inside major cities are far rarer.

Rouhani leaves Sunday for NY to attend next week's United Nations General Assembly along with Trump, but Iran has repeatedly ruled out any meeting.

Iran will be scrambling to determine the motives for the Saturday's high-profile attack as it faces growing USA pressure.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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