Gunmen attack Iranian military parade in Ahvas, killing dozens

Arturo Kim
September 22, 2018

Islamic State jihadists said via their propaganda mouthpiece Amaq that "Islamic State fighters attacked a gathering of Iranian forces" in Ahvaz, but the claim could not be verified and many recent IS claims have proved false.

"Shooting began by several gunmen from behind the stand during the parade".

A video distributed to Iranian media showed soldiers crawling as gunfire blazed towards them. The attack lasted about 10 minutes, the BBC's David Bamford told NPR. At least 53 others were wounded, including some who were in critical condition. "There are several killed and injured", a correspondent told state television, which later reported that 20 people were wounded.

"Terrorists recruited, trained, armed & paid by a foreign regime have attacked Ahvaz", Mr Zarif tweeted.

"Iran will respond swiftly and decisively in defence of Iranian lives", Zarif vowed, adding "children and journos" were "among casualties".

The BBC reports an Iranian military spokesman claimed the attackers "were trained and organised by two Gulf countries", and had ties to the USA and Israel.

A spokesman for the Revolutionary Guards, however, alleged that the attackers were separatists backed by Saudia Arabia, Iran's regional archrival.

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Ahvaz is close to Iran's southern border with Iraq and the capital of Iran's oil-rich Khuzestan Province. Two of them were killed and two others were detained.

Of those killed, at least eight are believed to be members of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guard.

Semi-official news outlets with reporters at the scene said the attackers were dressed in military fatigues and had approached the parade from a park, behind a temporary reviewing stand from where officials had been watching the ceremony. Suspicion immediately fell on the region's Arab separatists, who previously only attacked unguarded oil pipelines under the cover of darkness.

According to Fars News, four terrorists opened fire at bystanders during the annual parade, which is observed every year to commemorate the country's sacrifices during the 8-year long war imposed by Iraq in 1980.

Senior Guards commanders were skeptical about President Hassan Rouhani's cultivation of detente with the West with the landmark 2015 deal, which placed curbs on Iran's nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of a number of sanctions.

In a statement issued by Pakistan's Foreign Office, Islamabad also slammed the deadly terrorist attack and expressed solidarity with Tehran and the families of those killed and wounded in the brutal shooting.

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

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