24 troops killed in Iran parade attack

24 troops killed in Iran parade attack

State media reports say around 20 people, including a child and women, were also injured in what the Iranian media termed a terrorist attack.

Ambassador Wilfredo Santos said gunmen wearing military uniforms staged the attack at around 9:00 a.m. local time.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack so far.

Ahvaz is the capital of Iran's oil-rich Khuzestan Province. However, Iran faced a bloody assault previous year from the Islamic State group and Arab separatists in the region have attacked oil pipelines there in the past.

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the attack near the Iraqi border was carried out by "terrorists recruited, trained, armed & paid by a foreign regime".

Yahya Rahim Safavi, a senior Iranian Revolutionary Guards official, has vowed retaliation for the attack.

He told state television three attackers were killed at the scene and the fourth died later of his injuries. Two of the attackers were killed and two were arrested, the deputy governor said.

Video obtained by The Associated Press of the aftermath showed bodies of soldiers, some appearing lifeless, laying on the ground in pools of blood.

The death toll of 25 was expected to rise after gunmen attacked the parade in Khuzestan province on Saturday.

Khuzestan was a major battleground of the 1980s war with Saddam's Iraq and the attack on the anniversary parade in Ahvaz had significant symbolic value.

Tensions between mainly Shi'ite Iran and mostly Sunni Saudi Arabia have surged in recent years, with the two countries supporting opposite sides in wars in Syria and Yemen and rival political parties in Iraq and Lebanon.

State media in Saudi Arabia did not immediately acknowledge the attack, though a Saudi-linked, Farsi-language satellite channel based in the United Kingdom immediately carried an interview with an Ahvazi activist claiming Saturday's attack. "The Iranian people and the armed forces will respond to this", he was quoted by IRNA as saying.

The Revolutionary Guards are the most powerful and heavily armed military force in the Islamic Republic and also have a vast stake worth billions of dollars in the economy.

If it was IS, it would represent a failure by Iran's intelligence community to prevent a second major IS attack in its soil.

The attack in Ahvaz came as President Rouhani was among dignitaries at the main anniversary parade in Tehran.

IS militants said via their propaganda mouthpiece Amaq that "Islamic State fighters attacked a gathering of Iranian forces" in Ahvaz. A spokesman who called into a Farsi language TV program said that his group had targeted the IRGC, not civilians.

The attack occurred a day before Iranian President Hassan Rouhani heads to NY to address the annual U.N. General Assembly next week. In July, Iran executed eight people convicted in the attack.

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