Iranian officials said on Sunday they suspected British involvement in a double bomb attacks in the ethnic-Arab dominated city of Ahvaz, despite furious denials and condemnation of the attacks from London.
Two bombs exploded outside a crowded market late Saturday in Ahvaz, capital of the oil-rich Khuzestan Province adjacent to British-occupied southern Iraq. Five people were killed and more than 100 injured, according to the latest official toll.
“Since there are British troops present alongside our border, there is a concern over their involvement in the explosions in Ahvaz,” Alaeddin Borujerdi, the head of the Iranian parliament’s foreign policy commission, told the student news agency ISNA.
“We have information on their previous involvement in the unrest in Khuzestan,” he was quoted as saying, even though the British embassy in Tehran had quickly moved to condemn the attacks and deny any involvement.
“The explosions in Ahvaz had a British accent,” the head of Iran’s Basij volunteer militia, Brigadier General Mohammad Hejazi, was quoted as saying by ISNA.
“It’s a conspiracy,” Hejazi alleged. Iranian Interior Minister Mostafa Pur-Mohammadi also told ISNA that “usually this kind of insecurity comes from the other side of the border and is guided from there.”
The blasts occurred shortly before dusk when shoppers crowd commercial areas to buy food for iftar — or the breaking of the daily fast during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
But in a statement, the British embassy in Tehran voiced “its revulsion at and condemnation of the terrorist attacks”.
“There has been speculation in the past about alleged British involvement in Khuzestan. We reject these allegations. Any linkage between the British Government and these terrorist outrages is without foundation,” the British embassy statement said.
“As we have made clear officially to the Government of Iran, the British Government and British forces in Iraq stand ready to help in anyway we can to prevent attacks of this kind or identify those responsible and bring them to justice.”