Gunmen who were disguised as soldiers opened fire at a military parade in southwest Iran, killing at least 25 people and wounding around 60 others. Almost half of those who were killed were members of the Revolutionary Guard, turning the attack into one of the deadliest ever on the elite force. Civilians, including children, were also among the victims.
Four attackers dressed up as soldiers opened fire from behind a viewing platform during the parade in the city of Ahvaz that was being carried out to mark the anniversary of the end of the war with Iraq. Although some reports claim all the attackers were killed, others state that three were killed after they opened fire while another was arrested. An anti-government group, known as the Ahvaz National Resistance, and Islamic State (IS) both claimed responsibility for the attack but neither of them provided any evidence to back up their allegations.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif blamed other countries in the region and their “U.S. masters” for the attack. “Iran will respond swiftly and decisively in defense of Iranian lives,” Zarif wrote on Twitter. A spokesman for the Revolutionary Guard specifically pinned the blame on Saudi Arabia. “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,” he said.
If the Arab separatist group is responsible it “would suggest a resurgence of separatist militancy after a seven-year lull. If it was IS, it would represent a failure by Iran’s intelligence community to prevent a second major IS attack in its soil,” notes the BBC’s Siavash Mehdi-Ardalan. “Iran has not provided any evidence of foreign collusion but has vowed revenge. The Saudi reaction and more importantly the wording of the US administration’s response may prove important as leaders of all three countries are set for a possible diplomatic clash at the UN General Assembly next week.”