Car Bomb Explodes in Iranian Capital; 12 Reported Killed
NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) _ A car packed with TNT exploded on a Tehran street crowded with Sunday shoppers, killing at least 12 people in the Iranian capital and wounding 35, Iran’s official news agency reported.
It quoted Tehran’s police chief as accusing ″U.S. agents″ of setting off the blast.
Iran’s Islamic Republic News Agency, in reports monitored in Nicosia, said most of those killed and wounded were street vendors, pedestrians and passengers on a parked bus.
It was not immediately possible to independently verify the IRNA report.
IRNA said the explosion occurred at 8:15 a.m. on Nasser Khosrow Avenue, just as the street, one of the busiest in a poor southern neighborhood of Tehran, was filling with people.
The car bomb started a fire that gutted two buildings and two shops, IRNA said. It wrecked seven cars, damaged 15 others, and broke windows 250 yards away, the agency said.
It quoted Khalil Karami, 16, a street vendor injured in the blast, as saying he had just started work when a ″big sound″ flung him from his stall.
The agency quoted Col. Abbas Moazzami, Tehran’s police chief, as saying ″U.S. agents″ had packed the car trunk with an estimated 110 pounds of TNT.
″The enemies of the Islamic revolution are mistaken if they thought they could upset the committed Moslem people. On the contrary, such acts will unite the people further,″ IRNA quoted Moazzami as saying.
The Iranian agency said crowds rushed to the blast site and chanted slogans denouncing ″lackeys of imperialism″ and the leftist underground, Mujahedeen Khalq, which opposes the Islamic revolution of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
In Paris, the Mujahedeen Khalq condemned the bombing, calling it ″a crime committed with the sole aim of tarnishing the image of the just resistance.″
″The Khomeini regime has set up similar blasts on many occasions in the past, killing and injuring hundreds of our innocent compatriots in order to discredit the Iranian people’s resistance,″ the group said in a statement.
Almost two hours after the explosion, the situation was back to normal and a committee was assessing damage, IRNA said.
It said thousands of people gathered to help security forces and relief workers. They reportedly shouted ″Death to the U.S. 3/8″ and ″Death to the Munafeqeen 3/8″
Munafeqeen, a word meaning hypocrites, is a term used by Iran’s rulers to refer to the opposition Mujahedeen. The underground group has been waging an intermittent sabotage campaign against Iran’s theocratic rulers.
The Mujahedeen claimed responsibility for three bomb attacks in February on government buildings in Tehran that killed three people and wounded four.
The attacks came during official celebrations marking the sixth anniversary of the overthrow of the monarchy and the victory of the revolution led by Ayatollah Khomeini.
Anti-monarchist itself, Mujahedeen Khalq played a leading role in Iran’s yearlong Islamic revolution that toppled Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi in 1979.
But after Khomeini’s return from exile, it clashed with his Islamic fundamentalist supporters, then went underground.
In the following two years, Mujahedeen Khalq claimed responsibility for a series of spectacular bomb attacks, including those that killed then President Mohammed Ali Rajae’i and Prime Minister Mohammed Javad Bahonar.
A subsequent crackdown drove Mujahedeen leaders into exile.
Exile and other Iranian sources abroad say a wave of protests took place in Iran last month against the continuation of Iran’s 41/2 -year-old war with its Moslem neighbor, Iraq.