A terrorist attack on a military parade in the southwestern Iranian city of Ahvaz has left at least 25 people dead and 60 wounded. Women, children and members of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards were among those killed.
Shots were fired from behind a stand during the parade, which took place to mark the start of the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war. Four attackers were killed by security forces.
Student news agency ISNA reported that Brigadier General Ramezan Sharif, a spokesman for the guards, had said the attackers were members of Alahvaziyeh Group, a pan-Arab separatist group seeking independence from Iran and supported by Saudi Arabia.
Iran and Saudi Arabia have been locked in a power struggle in the region for years. Tehran and Riyadh, self-proclaimed custodians of Shia and Sunnis in the Islamic world, are involved in proxy wars in the region, including in Syria and Yemen.
Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran’s foreign minister, also accused the US and some unnamed regional countries of being involved in the attack. “Iran holds regional terror sponsors and their US masters accountable for such attacks. Iran will respond swiftly and decisively in defense of Iranian lives,” he posted in a tweet.
Hassan Rouhani, Iran’s president, expressed condolences, saying: “The response of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the smallest threats will be decisive and those who supported terrorists…must be held accountable.”
Mr Rouhani was forced to leave a military parade in Tehran early following the attack in Ahvaz. The incident is the second in recent years following simultaneous attacks by gunmen and suicide bombers on the parliament building in Tehran and the nearby shrine of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the Islamic Republic’s founder in June 2017.
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