An army parade in the southwestern Iranian city of Ahvaz has come under attack. Journalists and children are among those shot in an assault that has reportedly left over 20 people dead and more than 60 injured.
Gunmen opened fire from behind the stands during a military parade in Ahvaz on Saturday. The event was attended by members of the local elite, including the Ahvaz governor as well as high-ranking clerics and MPs. Shooting broke out several minutes into the event, which featured troops from the Iranian Army’s 92nd armored division.
The attack has left as many as 25 people dead, Iran’s official IRNA news agency reported. More than 60 people were wounded, including women and children. Journalists covering the parade also came under fire.
The assailants were apparently wearing military uniforms, and the assault lasted for about 10 minutes. It is said that all four attackers were neutralized.
“The terrorists disguised as Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) and Basiji [paramilitary] forces opened fire … from behind the stand during the parade,” authorities said.
The carnage has been claimed by the ‘Patriotic Arab Democratic Movement in Ahwaz’ group.
“The individuals who fired at the people and the armed forces during the parade are connected to the al-Ahvaziya group which is fed by Saudi Arabia,” Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) spokesman Ramezan Sharif confirmed.
Later, Iranian military doubled down on the accusations against its regional allies, saying that the terrorists were in fact trained by two “Gulf countries” and had ties to the US and Israeli spy agency Mossad.
Neither Washington nor Tel Aviv or Riyadh have commented on the claims.
Following the assault, Islamic State said that its members were behind the shooting, but the claims were refuted by Iranian officials.
The attack comes as the nation commemorates the end of the eight-year Iran-Iraq War that ended in 1988. The anniversary was marked by a grand military event in Tehran, where mobile missile launchers, heavy armor, and troops paraded through the main street of the capital.
During the Tehran parade, Iranian top officials seized the opportunity to send a message to the US. Hassan Rouhani said Iran will never abandon its efforts to develop ballistic missiles, as these are “the most powerful weapons of the Islamic Republic.” He stressed their “defensive” nature, however.
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei also linked the Ahvaz attack to the US allies in the region. In a statement on his website, Khamenei said that he ordered the security forces to swiftly track down the “criminals” responsible for the act and bring them to justice.