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Iran Attack Kills 25, Wounds 60

Sep 23, 2018
Originally published on September 23, 2018 5:59 pm
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MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Iran is promising a crushing response to yesterday's attack on a military parade that left at least 25 people dead and wounded some 60 more. Iran's president says a U.S.-backed country is responsible. Washington denies the charge as NPR's Peter Kenyon reports.

PETER KENYON, BYLINE: Iranian state media described a shooting attack by four men in Ahvaz. The southern Iranian city was one of several locations staging military parades to mark the Iran-Iraq War fought for much of the 1980s. Among the victims was a 4-year-old boy. It was a relatively rare terrorist attack for Iran. And President Hassan Rouhani quickly blamed the U.S. and its regional allies. The attack was claimed by an Arab separatist group that describes itself as supported by Saudi Arabia, Iran's most powerful regional rival. Foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted that, quote, "terrorists recruited, trained, armed and paid by a foreign regime carried out the attack," adding that, quote, "Iran holds regional terror sponsors and their U.S. masters accountable for such attacks." He said Tehran's response would be swift and decisive. Iran summoned a charge d'affaires for the United Arab Emirates following the attack.

The Trump administration rejected any blame. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley told CNN that Rouhani, quote, "can blame us all he wants," adding that the thing he's got to do is look in the mirror.

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NIKKI HALEY: Look. The United States is not looking to do a regime change in Iran. We're not looking to do regime change anywhere.

KENYON: Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps says it lost a dozen members in the attack and vowed deadly and unforgettable revenge. Tensions between Iran and the U.S. have been on the rise since May, when President Trump pulled out of the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran and announced the reimposition of sanctions. The heaviest sanctions seeking to block Iran's lucrative oil trade are due to take effect in November. Iran has been working with European signatories to the agreement in hopes of keeping trade going despite the sanctions. Russia and China have also vowed to keep doing business with Iran.

Peter Kenyon, NPR News, Istanbul. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.