Iran's president today accused an unnamed US-allied country in the Persian Gulf of being behind a terror attack on a military parade that killed 25 people and wounded 60, further raising regional tensions.
An Iranian soldier carries a child away from a shooting during a military parade.
Source: Associated Press
Hassan Rouhani's comments came as Iran's Foreign Ministry also summoned Western diplomats over them allegedly providing havens for the Arab separatists who claimed Saturday's attacks in the southwestern city of Ahvaz.
The Iranian moves, as well as promises of revenge by Iran's elite Revolutionary Guard, come as the country already faces turmoil in the wake of the American withdraw from Tehran's nuclear deal with world powers.
The attack in Ahvaz, which saw women and children flee with uniformed soldiers bloodied, has further shaken the country.
Rouhani's remarks could refer to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates or Bahrain - close US military allies that view Iran as a regional menace over its support for militant groups across the Middle East.
"All of those small mercenary countries that we see in this region are backed by America. It is Americans who instigate them and provide them with necessary means to commit these crimes," Rouhani said before leaving for the UN General Assembly in New York.
Iran meanwhile summoned diplomats from Britain, Denmark and the Netherlands early Sunday for allegedly harbouring "members of the terrorist group" that launched the attack.
Danish Foreign Minister Anders Samuelsen condemned the attack and stressed that there would be "consequences" if it turns out that those responsible have connections to Denmark.
The ministry later summoned the UAE's envoy as well over what it called the "irresponsible and insulting statements" of an Emirati adviser, according to the semi-official ISNA news agency. The UAE did not immediately acknowledge the summons.
Saturday's attack, in which militants disguised as soldiers opened fire on an annual Iranian military parade in Ahvaz, was the deadliest attack in the country in nearly a decade.
Women and children scattered along with once-marching Revolutionary Guard soldiers as heavy gunfire rang out, the chaos captured live on state television.
The region's Arab separatists, once only known for night-time attacks on unguarded oil pipelines, claimed responsibility for the assault, and Iranian officials appeared to believe the claim.
The separatists accuse Iran's Persian-dominated government of discriminating against its ethnic Arab minority. Khuzestan province also has seen recent protests over Iran's nationwide drought, as well as economic protests.
The attack killed at least 25 people and wounded 60, according to the state-run IRNA news agency. It said gunmen wore military uniforms and targeted a riser where military and police commanders were sitting. State TV hours later reported that all four gunmen had been killed.
At least eight of the dead served in the Revolutionary Guard, an elite paramilitary unit that answers only to Iran's supreme leader, according to the semi-official Tasnim news agency. The Guard responded to the attack on Sunday, warning it would seek "deadly and unforgiving revenge in the near future."
Tensions have been on the rise in Iran since the Trump administration pulled out of the 2015 nuclear accord with Iran in May and began restoring sanctions that were eased under the deal. It also has steadily ramped up pressure on Iran to try to get it to stop what Washington calls its "malign activities" in the region.
The US government nevertheless strongly condemned Saturday's attack and expressed its sympathy, saying it "condemns all acts of terrorism and the loss of any innocent lives."
The attack dominated Iranian newspaper front pages on Sunday. The hard-line daily Kayhan warned that Iranians would demand Saudi Arabia feel the "hard slap" of the country's power.
Iran's government declared Monday as a nationwide public mourning day, state-run IRNA news agency reported Sunday.
Also, all governmental organisations, banks, schools and universities in south-eastern Khuzestan province will be closed on Monday, semi-official Tasnim news agency reported.
An overnight impromptu candle-light vigil in Ahvaz honoured the dead and wounded. Among the dead is 4-year-old Mohammad Taha, who was captured by a photographer being carried away from the attack by a Guardsman in full dress uniform and sash. The photograph, showing the boy bloodied and helpless, shocked Iran.
A doctor interviewed on state television said Mohammad had been up the night before marking Ashoura, a commemoration of the death of the Prophet Muhammad's grandson Hussein, one of Shiite Islam's most beloved saints. Mourners wear black in honour of his 7th century death in the Battle of Karbala in present-day Iraq.
"He was wearing a black shirt when he was martyred," a doctor said, standing next to the boy's tiny corpse, now wrapped in a blue body bag.
An exhibition showcasing 500 years of Pacific art is about to open to great fanfare in London.
It's one of the largest ever displays in the UK, with pieces by some of our best known Māori and Pasifika artists.
The work of Su'a Sulu'ape Paulo the Second has fascinated Kiwi photographer Mark Adams for four decades.
And now two of his prints capturing the Samoan tattoo process known as tatau are part of the major exhibition at the prestigious Royal Academy of Art in London.
"The tatau itself on the body is magnificent and powerful thing and very beautiful," Mr Adams told 1 NEWS in London.
Mark Adams' work depicts the controversial globalisation of the Samoan tradition.
He's one of 10 contemporary Kiwi artists to feature in the Oceanic art show.
So too are the Mata Aho Collective. They've spent the past week installing their piece Kiko Moana which they created last year.
"From conception to exhibition it took four of us working for nine months. It's a huge piece made out of layers and layers of blue tarp that we've stitched together," said Sarah Hudson of the Mata Aho Collective.
Bridget Reweti of the collective said: "Just as 250 years ago our people were making these amazing, unique works about their current day issues, we're doing the same thing, and making these works about our waterways."
Dozens of pieces have been carefully packaged, like a piano from Te Papa, and sent across the globe.
But some cultural treasures haven't travelled far, coming instead from European museums where they've been hidden away for generations.
"It's an incredible feeling to see these works and be in their presence. Some of them we've only read about and lots of them live overseas, so we've had a few tears," Ms Rewiti said.
And there's sure to be plenty more when the exhibition opens to the public on Saturday.
In her first solo engagement, the Duchess of Sussex will tomorrow open the exhibition, giving it an extra publicity boost and providing Meghan Markle with a taste of what she might encounter in her upcoming trip Down Under.
It’s one of the largest ever displays in the UK.
Source: 1 NEWS