Gunmen attacked an annual Iranian military parade Saturday inside the country’s oil-rich southwest, killing at least 24 people including members of the country’s elite Revolutionary Guard in addition to wounding 18 others, local media reported.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for the assault in Ahvaz, which saw gunfire spray into a crowd of marching Guardsmen, bystanders in addition to government officials watching by a nearby riser. However, Iran faced a bloody assault last year by the Islamic State group in addition to Arab separatists inside the region have attacked oil pipelines there inside the past.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif immediately blamed the attack on regional countries in addition to their “U.S. masters,” further raising regional tensions as Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers is actually in jeopardy after President Donald Trump withdrew America by the accord.
“Iran will respond swiftly in addition to decisively in defense of Iranian lives,” he wrote on Twitter.
State television aired footage of the aftermath of the assault on Ahvaz’s Quds, or Jerusalem, Boulevard, which like many various other places around the country saw an annual parade marking the start of Iran’s long 1980s war with Iraq. The images included paramedics trying to help one person in military fatigues as various other armed security personnel shouted at each various other. The semi-official ISNA news agency published photographs of the attack’s aftermath, with bloodied troops in dress uniforms helping each various other walk away.
A local news agency in Khuzestan province, of which Ahvaz is actually the capital, aired grainy mobile phone footage showing parade goers fleeing as soldiers lay flat on the ground. Gunfire rang out inside the background.
“Security forces have restored security inside the area however the parade has totally been disrupted,” a reporter on the scene for Iranian state television said by phone in a live broadcast. “People have been killed however we have no figures yet.”
Zarif on Twitter said that will the gunmen were “terrorists recruited, trained, armed & paid by a foreign regime.” He did not immediately elaborate. However, Arab separatist groups inside the region have launched attacks on oil pipelines there inside the past in addition to Iran. The separatists also accuse Iran’s Shiite theocracy of discriminating against its Sunni Arab citizens. Iran has blamed its Mideast archrival, the Sunni kingdom of Saudi Arabia, for funding their activity.
Reports of how the attack unfolded remained unclear immediately afterward. The state TV reporter said the gunfire came by a park behind a riser. The semi-official Fars news agency, which is actually close to the Guard, said two gunmen on a motorcycle wearing khaki uniforms carried out the attack.
The state-run IRNA news agency said over 53 people had been wounded, including a woman in addition to a child.
Khuzestan Gov. Gholamreza Shariati told IRNA that will two gunmen were killed in addition to various other two were arrested.
Who carried out the assault also remained in question. State television immediately described the assailants as “takfiri gunmen,” a term previously used to describe the Islamic State group. Iran has been deeply involved inside the fight against is actually in Iraq in addition to has aided embattled Syrian President Bashar Assad in his country’s long war.
Among those involved are members of the Revolutionary Guard, a paramilitary force answerable only to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The Guard also has vast holdings in Iran’s economy.
Meanwhile, Guard spokesman Gen. Ramazan Sharif told ISNA that will an Arab separatist group carried out the attack, without elaborating. However, those groups inside the past previously have only attacked unguarded oil pipelines at night.
Saturday’s attack comes after a coordinated June 7, 2017 Islamic State group assault on parliament in addition to the shrine of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in Tehran. At least 18 people were killed in addition to more than 50 wounded.
Khomeini led the 1979 Islamic Revolution that will toppled the Western-backed shah to become Iran’s first supreme leader until his death in 1989. The assault shocked Tehran, which largely has avoided militant attacks inside the decades after the tumult surrounding the Islamic Revolution.