EXPLOSIONS IN AHWAZ KILL AT LEAST 7, WOUNDS 70 AND FIVE IN TEHRAN
Iran Press Service
AHWAZ (IRAN), 12 June (IPS) As the dead toll from today’s explosions that rocked the south-western city of Ahwaz, the capital of the Iranian oil-rich province of Khouzestan reached eight, with another 70 reported wounded, another bomb exploded in the Hoseyni Square, in centre of Tehran, killing and wounding at least five people.
Baztab news service that belongs to presidential candidate Mohsen Reza'i said the explosion took place at 20.10 local time. The information, first provided by the Fars news agency was latter confirmed by the official news agency IRNA.
The bomb was placed in a rubbish bin, killed one and wounded two others, IRNA said, quoting police officials, adding that all the injured were taken to hospital.
According to the Iranian Labour new agency ILNA, a "terrorist" group named "The Birgades of Revolutionary Martyrs of al-Ahwaz" , in a statement published in some internet sites, calls on the people of Ahwaz and Khouzestan to boycott the forthcoming Iranian elections.
“We are boycotting the presidential elections and we expect of you to do the same in order to show the Iranian occupiers that we will win”, the BARM stated, according to ILNA, citing the unidentified site.
Hospital sources said 20 people were lightly injured in the blasts in Ahwaz, but said the number of killed could go further up, as some of the wounded are in serious situation.
Observers said the statement is a reminder of similar tracts distributed by a group named the “Democratic Popular Front of Ahwazi Arabs” during large scale disturbances that erupted in the province last April, leaving scores of people killed in clashes with security forces that made more than 1000 arrests.
The riots in Ahvaz and several other cities were triggered by a letter signed by former vice president Hojjatoleslam Mohammad Ali Abtahi that called for forcibly relocating the local Arab population and replacing it with Persians was distributed on 15 April in Ahwaz.
Mr. Abtahi and the authorities described the letter as a forgery.
As a result, people turned their wrath on government, attacked banks, public buildings and properties, set fire on buses and burned tires in the streets of major cities and localities.
But a spokesman for the London-based Democratic Popular Front of Ahvazi Arabs had told the “Aljazira” Television of the Persian Gulf Emirate of Qatar that security forces had opened fire on the people participating at a peaceful demonstration called by the Front to protest
The government temporarily shut the offices of Al Jazira in Tehran and banned broadcasts by the station, which is popular among local Arabs, accusing it of fanning the unrest.
In a visit to the region on Wednesday 20 April, Admiral Ali Shamkhani, Iran’s Defence Minister, himself an ethnic Arab, warned against the utilization of the incidents by foreigners accusing the Islamic Republic of ignoring the rights of its people, particularly the minorities.
“The Arabs of Iran are Iranian above all and have demonstrated their fidelity to the Islamic Republic and its leadership and they had been on the forefront of the Islamic Revolution and during the holly War (against Iraq)”, he observed, while assuring that all the detainees would be released by the end of the day.
Mr. Ali Aqamohammadi, the official spokesman for Iran’s Spreme Council on National Security and Khouzestan’s Governor both blamed “foreign elements” for the four explosions, two of them car bombs.
“Troublemakers that have their centres in western capitals and helped the fallen Saddam regimes during the imposed (Iran-Iraq) war are back again”, Mr. Aqamohammadi was quoted by the Students news agency ISNA, referring to the Democratic Popular Front of Ahwazi Arabs, and making it clear that he does not implicate the outlawed Mojahedeen Khalq Organisation “at this moment”.
Whatever the reasons, political analysts and experts says the recent disturbances have their origins in both the antagonism of all Iranian religious and ethnic minorities with the fascistic and apartheid nature of the Shi’a-based Islamic Republic in the one hand and the growing unpopularity of the regime with the quasi majority of the Iranians on the other.
“What they (the ethnic minorities) want is the legitimate rights to teaching, write and read in their native languages, open cultural, social and religious activities, a greater share in running the economy of the regions they are in domination etc..”, experts observed. ENDS AHAWAZ EXPLOSIONS 12605