Over 25 people killed in gunmen attack in Iran’s Ahvaz province
Gunmen opened fire on an annual Iranian military parade Saturday in the southwest city of Ahvaz, killing at least 25 people and wounding 53 others, local media reported.
Four gunmen began shooting at people from behind the viewing stand, according to ISNA, the semi-official Iranian Students News Agency. The semi-official Fars news agency, which is close to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard, reported, however, that two gunmen on a motorcycle wearing khaki uniforms carried out the attack.
According to the deputy of governor of Khuzestan Province, Ali Hossein Hosseinzadeh, 25 people were killed and more than 60 others injured in the attack.
Khuzestan Gov. Gholamreza Shariati that two gunmen were killed and another two were arrested, according to the official Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA).
Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif blamed the attack on regional countries and their “U.S. masters,” further raising regional tensions as Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers is in jeopardy after President Donald Trump withdrew America from the accord.
In a separate statement, Iranian president Hassan Rouhani ordered the Ministry of Intelligence to investigate the attack by mobilizing “all facilities of the security and military forces to quickly identify the terrorists and their links, and resolutely deal with the crime,” IRNA reported.
A spokesman for an Arab separatist group in Iran said members of his organization carried out the attack, The Associated Press reports.
Yacoub Hor al-Tostari, a spokesman for the Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahvaz, told the AP his group wants that area of southwest Iran to be its own nation.
He described his group as leading an umbrella organization for other Ahvaz groups, which includes the militants who carried out Saturday’s attack. Al-Tostari said the assault undermined the Iranian government “on the day it wants to give a message to the world that it is powerful and in control.”
Arab separatist groups in the region have attacked oil pipelines there in the past and 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.