Elite Iranian soldiers killed in attack on military parade
(about 2 hours later)
Gunmen have attacked a military parade in the south-west Iranian city of Ahvaz, killing 24 people and wounding 53, state media has said.
The IRNA news agency reported that the wounded included a woman and a child.
Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, blamed regional countries and their “US masters” for the attack and said Iran would “respond swiftly and decisively in defence of Iranian lives”. He said children and journalists were casualties in the attack.
Terrorists recruited, trained, armed & paid by a foreign regime have attacked Ahvaz. Children and journos among casualties. Iran holds regional terror sponsors and their US masters accountable for such attacks. Iran will respond swiftly and decisively in defense of Iranian lives. pic.twitter.com/WG1J1wgVD9
Zarif did not immediately elaborate after his tweet. However, Arab separatist groups have previously attacked oil pipelines in the region.
Earlier reports on Saturday described the assailants as Takfiri, a term previously used to describe Islamic State.
The semi-official Fars news agency, which is close to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, said two gunmen on a motorcycle wearing khaki uniforms carried out the attack.
State television showed images of the immediate aftermath, with paramedics seen helping someone in military fatigues lying on the ground. Other armed security personnel shouted at each other in front of what appeared to be a viewing stand for the parade.
The semi-official ISNA news agency published photographs of the aftermath in which bloodied troops in dress uniforms could be seen helping each other away from the scene on Ahvaz’s Quds, or Jerusalem Boulevard.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility.
Islamic State carried out a deadly assault on parliament and the shrine of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in Tehran in June last year. At that point, that had been the only attack by the Sunni extremists inside Shia Iran, which has been deeply involved in the wars in Iraq and Syria where Isis once held vast territory.
Ahvaz is the capital of Iran’s oil-rich Khuzestan province, where Arab separatists have attacked oil pipelines in the past.