08/04/2010, 00.00
IRAN
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Grenade or firecracker, blast near Ahmadinejad motorcade raises questions

An alleged attack against Iran’s president finds contradictory explanations. Official sources blame the incident on an exuberant “boy”; others say a hand grenade was thrown. Ahmadinejad was unhurt.
Beirut (AsiaNews) – Hand grenade or firecracker, attack against Ahmadinejad or “show of joy” for the president? It is hard to know what happened this morning in Hamadan, western Iran, given such contradictory versions of events.

An Iranian conservative website, Khabar online, reported that a hand grenade was thrown at the motorcade taking President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to a rally where he was scheduled to speak. The president was unhurt, and the explosive device apparently missed its target and hit instead a vehicle carrying journalists.

Al-Arabiya satellite TV picked up the story, following by all of the region’s major media outlets. Some reported that a number of people were wounded in the attack. However, the president delivered his speech as planned and did not mention the incident.

Iran’s Press TV, a state-controlled broadcaster, said there was no attack, explaining that the blast had been caused by a firecracker that landed within a distance of five hundred metres from Ahmadinejad's motorcade. A person has been held in connection with the incident and an investigation is underway.

Reuters, quoting a source in the President’s Office, said. “There was an attack this morning”.

Conversely, Al-Jazeera’s correspondent reported that some “journalists who were part of Ahmadinejad's convoy [. . .] said they” did not hear or see “anything”.  Or, alternatively, “it must have been something so insignificant or so small that nobody noticed anything."

Later, in the afternoon, IRNA posted a brief report on its website titled “Firecracker causes embarrassment for president in Hamedan”. Iran’s official news agency said that a “boy” threw the small explosive device in order to celebrate President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s arrival in Hamadan. A photo showing smoke in the crowd was also released.

“Iranian youth during special ceremonies such as New Year festivals or football matches use firecrackers as sign of jubilation”, IRNA said. “Unfortunately, a number of domestic media reported it as [the] explosion of hand grenade, causing ambiguity,” it added.

Despite the disclaimer, for many the story remains ambiguous.

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