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Iran's President Blames US After Attack09/23 10:03

   Iran's president on Sunday accused an unnamed U.S.-allied country in the 
Persian Gulf of being behind a terror attack on a military parade that killed 
25 people and wounded 60, further raising regional tensions.

   TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- Iran's president on Sunday accused an unnamed 
U.S.-allied country in the Persian Gulf of being behind a terror attack on a 
military parade that killed 25 people and wounded 60, further raising regional 
tensions.

   Hassan Rouhani's comments came as Iran's Foreign Ministry also summoned 
Western diplomats over them allegedly providing havens for the Arab separatists 
who claimed Saturday's attacks in the southwestern city of Ahvaz.

   The Iranian moves, as well as promises of revenge by Iran's elite 
Revolutionary Guard, come as the country already faces turmoil in the wake of 
the American withdraw from Tehran's nuclear deal with world powers. The attack 
in Ahvaz, which saw women and children flee with uniformed soldiers bloodied, 
has further shaken the country.

   Rouhani's remarks could refer to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates or 
Bahrain -- close U.S. military allies that view Iran as a regional menace over 
its support for militant groups across the Middle East.

   "All of those small mercenary countries that we see in this region are 
backed by America. It is Americans who instigate them and provide them with 
necessary means to commit these crimes," Rouhani said before leaving for the 
U.N. General Assembly in New York.

   Iran meanwhile summoned diplomats from Britain, Denmark and the Netherlands 
early Sunday for allegedly harboring "members of the terrorist group" that 
launched the attack. Danish Foreign Minister Anders Samuelsen condemned the 
attack and stressed that there would be "consequences" if it turns out that 
those responsible have connections to Denmark.

   The ministry later summoned the UAE's envoy as well over what it called the 
"irresponsible and insulting statements" of an Emirati adviser, according to 
the semi-official ISNA news agency. The UAE did not immediately acknowledge the 
summons.

   Saturday's attack, in which militants disguised as soldiers opened fire on 
an annual Iranian military parade in Ahvaz, was the deadliest attack in the 
country in nearly a decade. Women and children scattered along with 
once-marching Revolutionary Guard soldiers as heavy gunfire rang out, the chaos 
captured live on state television.

   The region's Arab separatists, once only known for nighttime attacks on 
unguarded oil pipelines, claimed responsibility for the assault, and Iranian 
officials appeared to believe the claim. The separatists accuse Iran's 
Persian-dominated government of discriminating against its ethnic Arab 
minority. Khuzestan province also has seen recent protests over Iran's 
nationwide drought, as well as economic protests.

   The attack killed at least 25 people and wounded 60, according to the 
state-run IRNA news agency. It said gunmen wore military uniforms and targeted 
a riser where military and police commanders were sitting. State TV hours later 
reported that all four gunmen had been killed.

   At least eight of the dead served in the Revolutionary Guard, an elite 
paramilitary unit that answers only to Iran's supreme leader, according to the 
semi-official Tasnim news agency. The Guard responded to the attack on Sunday, 
warning it would seek "deadly and unforgiving revenge in the near future."

   Tensions have been on the rise in Iran since the Trump administration pulled 
out of the 2015 nuclear accord with Iran in May and began restoring sanctions 
that were eased under the deal. It also has steadily ramped up pressure on Iran 
to try to get it to stop what Washington calls its "malign activities" in the 
region.

   The U.S. government nevertheless strongly condemned Saturday's attack and 
expressed its sympathy, saying it "condemns all acts of terrorism and the loss 
of any innocent lives."

   The attack dominated Iranian newspaper front pages on Sunday. The hard-line 
daily Kayhan warned that Iranians would demand Saudi Arabia feel the "hard 
slap" of the country's power.

   Overnight, an impromptu candle-light vigil in Ahvaz honored the dead and 
wounded. Iran planned a day of mourning Monday and funerals for those killed.

   Among them is 4-year-old Mohammad Taha, who was captured by a photographer 
being carried away from the attack by a Guardsman in full dress uniform and 
sash. The photograph, showing the boy bloodied and helpless, shocked Iran.

   A doctor interviewed on state television said Mohammad had been up the night 
before marking Ashoura, a commemoration of the death of the Prophet Muhammad's 
grandson Hussein, one of Shiite Islam's most beloved saints. Mourners wear 
black in honor of his 7th century death in the Battle of Karbala in present-day 
Iraq.

   "He was wearing a black shirt when he was martyred," a doctor said, standing 
next to the boy's tiny corpse, now wrapped in a blue body bag. 


(KA)

 
 
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