Reuters: A percussion bomb exploded in the restive southwestern Iranian oil city of Ahvaz late on Saturday evening but caused no injuries, the official IRNA news agency reported. TEHRAN, Jan 29 (Reuters) – A percussion bomb exploded in the restive southwestern Iranian oil city of Ahvaz late on Saturday evening but caused no injuries, the official IRNA news agency reported.
People poured into the streets in panic after the blast, the agency said. Eight people were killed on Tuesday when bombs ripped through a bank and government building in Ahvaz, capital of the mainly Arab province of Khuzestan.
Khuzestan has simmered with ethnic unrest since April, when five people died in protests ignited by rumours the government was considering settling non-Arabs in southwest Iran to dilute Arab influence there.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is due to visit Ahvaz on Monday. The city has seen intermittent rioting and bombings since April.
“An initial investigation found the exploded object was a percussion bomb,” Khuzestan Governor Amir Hayat Moqaddam told IRNA, referring to the device designed to create more noise than damage.
A little-known group campaigning for independence for Iran’s Arab minority claimed responsibility for Tuesday’s attacks in a Web statement. The claim could not be verified.
Iran last week accused the British military in Iraq of cooperating with the bombers. Britain denied the allegation and condemned the attacks.
Iran’s prosecutor general, Qorbanali Dorri Najafabadi, warned in the conservative Resalat daily that the judiciary would deal severely with the attackers.
“Those behind the bombings in Ahvaz will be considered as ‘mohareb’,” he said, using a religious term that describes someone who struggles against God. A mohareb can face the death penalty under Iranian Islamic law.
Seven people were killed in bombings in June and six died in a blast in October. Some minor oil facilities were bombed in September.
About 3 percent of Iran’s 69 million people are Arabs but authorities are very sensitive about protests and discontent in the southwestern Arab territories, home to Iran’s biggest oil fields.