Previously unknown group claims responsibility for Iran bombings: report
16 June 2005
KUWAIT CITY - A previously unknown Arab group has claimed responsibility for the four weekend bombings in Iran’s southwestern city of Ahvaz that killed eight people, according to Thursday’s Al-Anba daily.
The bomb attacks on government buildings on Sunday were the deadliest in Iran in more than a decade.
An Iranian official blamed them on supporters of ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.
“Sons of our glorious Arab nation, a new stage of our strong people’s struggle against the Persian occupier has started,” said a statement from the military wing of the Arab Struggle Movement for Liberating Ahvaz, published by the daily newspaper.
The statement said the group carried out the explosions in the city and vowed to “turn Ahvaz’s land and skies into an inferno,” with more attacks.
Editors of the daily could not be immediately reached for information on how the newspaper obtained the statements and a videotape purporting to show one of the bombings. Al-Anba published still images from the tape showing what looked to be a column of fire in the distance and people running for cover.
In a separate statement, the alleged movement’s political office said it has taken up arms to drive Iranians out of Ahvaz after Tehran closed all the “peaceful political doors” in their face, and called on other Arabs to join what it called the “struggle movement.”
Ahvaz was the site of two days of violent protests in April after reports circulated of an alleged plan to decrease Arab numbers in the area. Officials at the time confirmed one death but opposition groups said more than 20 demonstrators had been killed. Some 250 were arrested.
The protests were sparked after copies of a letter allegedly signed by former Vice President Mohammad Ali Abtahi circulated in the area which ordered the relocation of non-Arabs to Ahvaz and make them the majority ethnic group. Abtahi denied writing the letter.
Arabs make up about 3 percent of Iran’s population of 69 million; Persians account for 51 percent.
Intelligence Minister Yunesi said the bombings were committed by radicals who failed to capitalize on April’s protests.