News World Gunmen unleash a barrage of lethal fire on VIP stand at Iran parade
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Gunmen unleash a barrage of lethal fire on VIP stand at Iran parade

The regime can call out Shia followers in their tens of thousands, providing easy targets for Sunni insurgents. Photo: AP
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Unknown gunmen opened fire during a military parade in the southwestern Iranian city of Ahvaz, claiming an asyet unknown number of lives and at least a score wounded.

Authorities said the attack on Saturday targeted a stand where officials were gathered to watch the annual event, marking the start of the country’s 1980-88 war with Iraq.

Iran was holding similar parades in several cities including the capital Tehran and the port of Bandar Abbas on the Gulf.

“Shooting began by several gunmen from behind the stand during the parade. There are several killed and injured,” a correspondent told state television.

Semi-official news agency Mehr said further shooting broke out as some of the attackers who managed to escape were being chased.

State television blamed “takfiri elements”, a reference to Sunni militants. Ahvaz is in the centre of Khuzestan province, which has been the site of sporadic protests by Iran’s Arab minority.

An unnamed spokesman for the Revolutionary Guards blamed Arab nationalists, who he said were backed by Saudi Arabia, the semi-official ISNA news agency reported.

Tensions between traditional rivals Iran and 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.

-AAP