Monday, June 13, 2005

Terrorists Strike in Iran - For Bush "Mums the Word"

A string of deadly terrorist bombings in recent days have threatened to disrupt Iran's upcoming presidential election. One top official said, "They want a low turnout (in the election) to show people were not present. They tried satellite TV and leaflets, but this did not work. They want to create fear. The election will go ahead, with total security and confidence.”

Yesterday eight people were killed and more than 75 injured in a series of four blasts outside public buildings in Ahvaz, capital of oil-rich Khuzestan Province and an ethnic Arab majority city close to the Iraqi border. An AFP reporter in Ahvaz said the area around the local governor's office, one of three public buildings targeted, was strewn with shards of glass and rubble. Scores of police had sealed off the area, and by early evening municipal workers were already clearing the scene and mopping up pools of blood. "It was inhuman, a horrible thing. There was a small child walking around looking for his dead mother," said Abdol Hossein Kord-Zanghaneh, a nurse at an Ahvaz hospital where many of the casualties were taken. "This is an American plot," he said, adding that many of the wounded had suffered concussion and blown ear drums.

Intelligence Minister Ali Yunesi said that the perpetrators of the incidents in Ahvaz are the same elements who failed to reach their goals in Ahvaz a few weeks prior to the bombings. (Clashes broke out between Arab demonstrators and security forces in the Khuzestan provincial capital of Ahvaz on April 18. The authorities said five people had died in the violence, which sparked a wave of arrests. Iran has long taken very seriously any threates to its territorial integrity by those pushing for seperation or ethinic autonomy). Yunesi said, “Now they want to take revenge against the people in the few days before the presidential election. They have targeted Arabs and non-Arabs alike and are not pursuing any specific goal in these operations.” MEHR News Agency says local officials claim that three groups, the Arab Martyrs of Khuzestan, Afwaj al-Nehzat wa al-Mosalahat al-Ahwaz, and the Arab Democracy Movement, have claimed responsibility for the explosions.

A few hours after the blasts in Ahwaz, a bomb killed and wounded several more in Tehran.

In response the Interior Ministry has announced the mobilization of security police and others to track down those carrying out the attacks. "Those responsible are hand-in-hand with our enemies abroad," Ahvaz Governor Mohammad Ja’far Sarrahmi told AFP, pointing the finger at the Iraq-based Mojahedin Khalq Organization (MKO) and "Baathist" elements. Ali Aqa-Mohammadi, spokesman of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, suggested these terrorists had infiltrated from neighboring Iraqi territory now occupied by the United States and Britain.

According to the Tehran Times other officials have named the London-based Iranian Arab separatist group Popular Democratic Front of Ahvazi Arabs as being behind the blasts, charges that were fiercely denied by the group.

Tehran prosecutor Said Mortazavi, who says terrorists and Arab separatists, sheltered by US forces in Iraq are behind the bombings, says "Those who planted the bombs are the enemies of God and they will be executed when they are captured."

Meanwhile, another blast was reported in Tehran today.

I don’t know about you, but I haven’t heard anything from President Bush condemning these latest terror attacks. Sources: Albawaba, Tehran Times, Aljazeera, AFP, MEHR