- LONDON (IranMania) -- Iran
was struck by a wave of deadly bombings in this restive southwestern city
and the capital Sunday, with the Islamic regime accusing US-backed "terrorists"
of seeking to destabilise the country just days ahead of presidential elections,
according to AFP.
- At least eight people were killed and 75 wounded by a
series of four blasts outside several public buildings in Ahvaz, an ethnic
Arab majority city close to the Iraqi border that is capital of oil-rich
- Later Sunday, another blast hit a busy square in Tehran,
killing two people and seriously wounding at least two others, official
- Two smaller home-made bombs were reported to have exploded
in other parts of the capital, without causing any casualties.
- "The terrorists of Ahvaz infiltrated Iran from the
region of Basra" in southern Iraq, top national security official
Ali Agha Mohammadi told AFP.
- "These terrorists have been trained under the umbrella
of the Americans in Iraq," he charged, adding that Iran suspected
British troops across the border might also have links to the separatist
group -- the London-based Ahvaz Arab People's Democratic-Popular Front.
- "We call on the Americans and the British to condemn
these attacks and hand over the terrorists in Iraq. Sadly, they have so
far not said anything," Mohammadi said.
- He said "several terrorists have been arrested",
but gave no further details.
- Ahvaz was hit by several days of ethnic unrest in April,
with the 26-year-old Islamic regime then blaming "counter-revolutionaries".
- Iran's main armed opposition group, the People's Mujahedeen,
is based across the border in Iraq, and Mohammadi said he believed they
were involved in some of Sunday's attacks in Tehran.
- "The calls for a boycott of the vote had failed,
so the terrorist groups based in Iraq are trying to use attacks to disrupt
the election and prevent a strong voter participation," he said.
- Iran is due to go to the polls to elect a new president
- "The attacks are a failure, because in the past
the regime has been confronted by far worse," said Khuzestan's deputy
governor, Gholam Reza Shariati.
- An AFP reporter in Ahvaz said the area around the local
governor's office, one of three public buildings targeted, was strewn with
shards of glass and rubble.
- Scores of police had sealed off the area, and by early
evening municipal workers were already clearing the scene and mopping up
pools of blood.
- "It was inhuman, a horrible thing. There was a small
child walking around looking for his dead mother," said Abdol Hossein
Kord-Zanghaneh, a male nurse at an Ahvaz hospital where many of the casualties
- "This is an American plot," he said, adding
that many of the wounded had suffered concussion and blown ear drums.
- The huge blasts occurred between 9:00 am and 11:00 am
(0430 to 0630 GMT), hitting the governor's office, two other public buildings
and a residential area which is home to the director of state television
operations in Ahvaz.
- The explosion in Tehran occurred at Imam Hossein square,
interior ministry spokesman Jahanbaksh Khanjani told AFP. Witnesses said
the blast was heard after 8:00 pm (1530 GMT), adding the bomb was hidden
in a rubbish bin.
- Ahvaz, situated 500 kilometres (320 miles) southeast
of Tehran and 50 kilometres (32 miles) from the Iraqi border, was rocked
by ethnic violence from April 15-18.
- According to official figures, five people were killed
in those clashes, which appeared to have been sparked by a forged letter,
dating back seven years and attributed to then vice president Mohammad
Ali Abtahi, calling for changes to Khuzestan's ethnic make-up.
- On Friday, Iran is due to go the polls to elect a successor
to reformist President Mohammad Khatami.
- Informal opinion polls in the Iranian press suggest that
none of the eight candidates will be able to secure the more than 50 percent
of the vote needed to win. That means the top two would have to go into
a run-off -- unprecedented in the 26-year history of the Islamic republic.
- Tipped as the frontrunner is powerful ex-president and
pragmatic conservative Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. Trailing him are the main
reformist candidate Mostafa Moin and the hardline former national police
chief, Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf.
- The close-run campaign has been heating up, with regular
reports of politicians suffering violent attacks.
- But Iran vowed it would "shame" the United
States by drawing a huge turnout in the polls and disprove predictions
of a voter boycott. The United States has dismissed the election as rigged.