Tuesday 11 December 2018

Iran threatens vengeance for mass shooting at army parade

Evacuation: An Iranian soldier carries away a child at the site of an attack on a military parade in the southwestern Iranian city of Ahva. Photo: Getty Images
Evacuation: An Iranian soldier carries away a child at the site of an attack on a military parade in the southwestern Iranian city of Ahva. Photo: Getty Images

Sara Williams

Iran's Revolutionary Guard vowed "deadly and unforgettable" vengeance yesterday for the mass shooting at a military parade as Iran's president blamed US-backed insurgents for killing 25 people in a hail of bullets.

President Hassan Rouhani accused the US of inciting an unnamed ally in the Persian Gulf to carry out the attack on Saturday in the south-western city of Ahvaz. Four gunmen disguised in military garb opened fire and killed 12 Revolutionary Guardsmen as well as a number of spectators.

"America is acting like a bully towards the rest of the world... and thinks it can act based on brute force," said Mr Rouhani, whose country is in the grips of a desperate economic situation brought on by sweeping US sanctions.

"But our people will resist and the government is ready to confront America. We will overcome this situation and America will regret choosing the wrong path."

Mr Rouhani is on a collision course with US President Donald Trump, whose decision to quit the 2015 nuclear deal is, to Mr Rouhani's mind, directly to blame for Iran's financial crisis. The two leaders will attend the United Nations General Assembly in New York this week.

Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the United Nations, brushed off the accusations from Tehran, saying of Mr Rouhani: "The thing he has to do is look in the mirror.

Men, women, and children seek cover after the attack. Photo: Getty Images
Men, women, and children seek cover after the attack. Photo: Getty Images

"He's got the Iranian people protesting. Every ounce of money goes into his military. He has oppressed his people for a long time. I think the Iranian people have had enough."

Yesterday morning, Iran summoned diplomats from the UK, the Netherlands and Denmark, accusing them of harbouring Iranian opposition groups. Mr Rouhani then took to state television, declaring it "absolutely clear to us who has done this, which group it is and to whom they are affiliated", without naming anyone.

"One of the countries in the south of the Persian Gulf took care of their financial, weaponry and political needs. All these little mercenary countries we see in this region are backed by America. It is the Americans who incite them," he said.

Iran's foreign ministry then summoned the United Arab Emirates charge d'affaires to rebuke him for comments made by an unnamed Emirati official about the bloody fusillade at the parade.

Shia Iran has long been locked in a struggle for regional dominance with US-allied, majority Sunni, Saudi Arabia. The UAE is a Saudi ally, and hosts a significant US military presence.

Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf Al Saud, Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the UK, underscored the vitriol between the two regional powers in a reference to the "destabilising and malign influence of Iran".

"There is still time for a determined international response that stops Iran from spreading its malignant influence to every corner of the region," he said.

Tehran has made no secret of its mounting fury at the US over tightening sanctions, with Javad Zarif, the foreign minister, taking to Twitter on Friday to denounce "the Trump administration's sense of entitlement to destabilise the world along with rogue accomplices in our region".

The four dead gunmen are understood to have been part of a group affiliated with the Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahvaz, a separatist group.

Telegraph.co.uk

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