Casualties reported following shooting at military parade in southwest Iran

Casualties reported following shooting at military parade in southwest Iran

It was not immediately known who was responsible for the assault in Ahvaz, where gunfire sprayed into a crowd of marching Revolutionary Guards, bystanders and government officials watching from a nearby reviewing stand. Dozens ran, including numerous soldiers present who didn't initially use their weapons to engage the gunmen. "A four-year-old girl and a wheelchair-bound war veteran were among the dead".

The parade in the southwestern city was being held to mark the anniversary of the start of the eight-year war with Saddam Hussein's Iraq in 1980.

"Iran will respond swiftly and decisively in defense of Iranian lives", Zarif wrote on Twitter.

Tehran: Iran summoned diplomats from Denmark, the Netherlands and Britain over an attack on an army parade which killed at least 29 people near the Iraqi border, state-run media said on Sunday.

The death toll may rise as some of those wounded are in critical condition.

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. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif blamed the killings on "regional terror sponsors and their US masters". "Gulf countries", Brigadier General Abolfazl Shekarchi told the official news agency IRNA.

Military forces and citizens who had gathered to watch the parade were among the killed, the report said.

This muted stance was in contrast to that of other nations, which had offered their sympathies to the victims and condemnation of the attack, with several ambassadors in Tehran writing their own personal messages, while heads of state such as Russian President Vladimir Putin released official statements.

He said that children and journalists were casualties in the attack.

Ahvaz is in the center of Khuzestan province, where there have been sporadic protests by the Arab minority.

But while violence and bomb attacks are not uncommon on both Iran's western and eastern frontiers - bordering Iraq and Afghanistan respectively - audacious and organized assaults that directly target the Islamic Republic's security services in city centers are still rare.

At least 18 people were killed and more than 50 wounded in the 2017 attack that saw gunmen carrying Kalashnikov assault rifles and explosives storm the parliament complex where a legislative session had been in progress, starting an hours-long siege.

In April, 26 alleged Daesh militants went on trial on charges connected with that twin attack.

Yaghub Hur Totsari, spokesman for one of the two groups that identify themselves as the Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahvaz, said the Ahvaz National Resistance, an umbrella organisation of all armed movements, was behind the attack but did not specify which group.

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