Middle East

Iran blames ‘jihadist separatists’ for Ahvaz military parade attack

Iran’s intelligence ministry said Tuesday that investigators had found last week’s deadly attack on a military parade in the mainly ethnic-Arab southwestern city of Ahvaz was mounted by “jihadist separatists.”

“The five members of a terrorist squad affiliated to jihadist separatist groups supported by Arab reactionary countries were identified,” the ministry said in a statement posted on its website on Tuesday, September 25.

“The terrorists’ hideout was found and 22 people involved (in the attack) were arrested,” it said, adding that explosives were seized along with military and communications equipment.

“Foreign sponsors and supporters of this terrorist act have also been identified. More information will be provided on them in due course,” the statement said.

Tehran has pointed the finger at regional powers and the United States for backing the group behind the deadly September 22 attack in Ahvaz in Khuzestan province.

Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei said Monday that the attackers were funded by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, having already  blamed “American lackeys” for the incident.

Four men disguised as Iranian military personnel opened fire on the parade, killing 24 soldiers and civilians and injuring dozens more who were marking the 38th anniversary of the Iran-Iraq War.

Two of the attackers were killed while the other two were taken into custody at the scene.

Both Islamic State and a separatist group called Ahvaz National Resistance have claimed responsibility for the attack.

Another Ahwazi group, the the Ahwazi Democratic Popular Front, denied any involvement in the attack, telling The Defense Post: “ADPF is a civil political organisation and reject[s] all accusations regarding any act of violence.”

Khuzestan, which has a large ethnic Sunni Arab community, was a major battleground of the 1980s war with Iraq and saw unrest in 2005 and 2011.

The province contains the majority of Iran’s oil deposits and accounted for over two-thirds of the country’s production in 2016, according to government statistics.

With reporting from AFP

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