29 people died in the attack, at least 57 injured. Claimed by ISIS and the Al-Ahwazi group. Rouhani: "Saddam's mercenaries who changed masters and enjoy Washington's support." US Ambassador to the UN: Iran must "look in the mirror".
Tehran (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has accused Arab separatists of being the perpetrators of the attack on a military parade on 22 September in Ahvaz, in the southwest of the country, where 29 people died and about 60 were injured.
The head of state believes the attack - claimed by the Islamic State (IS, ex Isis) and a separatist Arab movement – was instigated by an unspecified Gulf nation that enjoys the support of the United States.
The attack took place in the context of the celebrations for the anniversary of the Iraq invasion, which began the war between Tehran and Baghdad in the 1980s. In response, the Iranian government summoned the ambassadors of Denmark, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, who would host members belonging to the group "suspected" of having hit the parade.
Official sources and local witnesses claim that the assailants (four in total) wore Iranian army uniforms; they would open fire using weapons they had previously hidden in a nearby park.
In the aftermath of the attack, Islamic State issued an official claim on the Amaq channel; in the video three men are seen wearing the uniforms of the Revolutionary Guardians, as they head towards the scene of the attack. However, claims also came from the Arab separatist group Ahwazi Democratic Popular Front (Adpf, Al-Ahwazi).
Ahvaz is the capital of the Khuzestan province, an oil-rich frontier area inhabited by a strong Arab community of more than three million people, mostly Sunni. For a long time they have accused the Shiite central authorities of discrimination; in recent years there have been several attacks by separatist groups against oil structures.
Previously, violent riots occurred in the area between 2005 and 2006, followed by bomb attacks attributed to separate Arab groups, which caused 28 deaths and 225 wounded. It was from that area that Saddam Hussein attempted to invade an Iran still reeling from the Ayatollah Revolution, taking advantage of the alleged support of Arab tribes.
Speaking on state television on the eve of his departure for New York, where he will participate in the UN General Assembly, Rouhani declared that it is "very clear who did this". "Those who perpetrated this catastrophe - he adds - were Saddam's mercenaries while he was alive, and now they have changed their masters". And one of the states south of the Persian Gulf "took the trouble to meet thier financial, political and military needs". "They are mercenary nations - concludes Rouhani - supported by America".
The US response was immediate and issued by the diplomatic representative at the UN. According to Nikki Haley, among the Trump administration's anti-Tehran hawks, Iran must "look in the mirror" when looking for the causes of the military parade attack. President Rouhani, added the US head of mission to the United Nations, has been "oppressing his people" for too long.