At least 24 people, including civilians were killed and over 50 injured when gunmen disguised as soldiers opened fire on an elite military parade in the Iranian city of Ahvaz on Saturday.
The dead and wounded were both military personnel and civilians, including a journalist watching the parade, IRNA news agency reported. The attackers opened fire on the parade at 9 a.m. from a nearby park in an assault that lasted around 10 minutes.
The parade was part of nationwide celebrations in Iran to mark the 30th anniversary since the end of the eight-year war with Iraq that started in September 1980 and ended in August 1988.
“The terrorists disguised as Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) and Basiji (volunteer) forces opened fire to the authority and people from behind the stand during the parade,” said Governor of Khuzestan Gholam-Reza Shariati, according to IRNA.
The separatist group the Patriotic Arab Democratic Movement in Ahwaz claimed responsibility for this attack.
The group is supported by “foreign antagonists,” including Saudi Arabia, the agency said.
Three of the attackers were gunned down during clashes with the security forces and one other arrested, news agencies reported.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif blamed “a foreign regime” backed by the US for the attack. “Terrorists recruited, trained, armed and paid by a foreign regime have attacked Ahvaz,” he said in a tweet, adding: “Iran holds regional terror sponsors and their US masters accountable for such attacks.”
Earlier, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani used the occasion of the military parade to compare US President Donald Trump to the former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, according to Press TV.
Speaking at a military rally in Tehran, he said Trump will fail in the “economic and psychological war” he’s launched against Iran, just as Hussein failed in his 8-year war against the Islamic Republic”.
“Iran will neither abandon its defensive weapons nor will reduce its defence capabilities,” Rouhani said.
“Rather it will increase its defence power day by day. The fact that they are angry at our missiles shows that these are the most influential weapons Iran has.”