The Iranian government has denied a flurry of reports speculating that there may have been an assassination attempt on President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad today as his motorcade traveled through the city of Hamedan in western Iran, where the president was scheduled to give a speech. The incident is variously attributed to a grenade, a homemade grenade, or a firecracker. Ahmadinejad later delivered his speech without incident or commenting on the alleged attack. Truth is elusive in Iran, where the media is government-run and information in the country is tightly controlled. It's difficult for Western reporters and news agencies to know what to treat as credible and what to disregard as rumor or propaganda. But here's what reporters are currently saying.
- What First Reports Said AOL News' Lauren Frayer rounds them up. "An unidentified official from the president's office told Reuters that a homemade bomb exploded about 100 yards from the convoy. The semi-official Fars news agency said a firecracker had been thrown in the president's direction. And Arab satellite TV stations said an attacker threw an explosive device at a car carrying journalists following Ahmadinejad's convoy, and that a number of people were wounded."
- Is Hamedan Credible Site for Attempt? Reuters Robin Pomeroy writes, "Baqer Moin, a London-based Iran expert, said Hamadan was a stable area without any notable ethnic or local tension.' Let's wait and see who they accuse, an internal or an external enemy,' Moin said. Several armed groups opposed to the government are active in Iran, mostly ethnic Kurds in the northwest, Baluch in the southeast and Arabs in the southwest."
- Regime-Friendly Iranian Site Had Reported Attempt The Associated Press reports, "A conservative website said a handmade grenade exploded Wednesday near President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's convoy in an apparent assassination attempt, but Tehran state TV denied the report. The website, khabaronline.ir, said the grenade detonated near Ahmadinejad's convoy as he was on his way to address a crowd in the western Iranian town of Hamedan but did not harm him." The site had reported, "This morning a hand grenade exploded next to a vehicle carrying reporters accompanying the president. ... Ahmadinejad's car was 100 meters away and he was not hurt." However, khabaronline.ir appears to no longer carry this story, instead reporting that the incident was only a firecracker.
- Iran Makes Arrests but Claims Firecracker The Agence France-Presse reports, "Iran's Mehr news agency quoting witnesses said a "hand-made noise bomb exploded a far distance from the president's car" in Hamedan. 'Nobody was hurt and several people have been arrested,' the agency said. Ahmadinejad later delivered a live televised speech to locals gathered in a stadium in Hamedan but made no reference to the alleged incident. An official in Ahmadinejad's media office told AFP that the explosion was from a 'firecracker.'" Other news agencies report only one arrest rather than "several."
- Ahmadinejad Earlier Claimed Assassination Threat The New York Times' William Yong and Alan Cowell remind us, "On Monday, in a speech in Tehran, Mr. Ahmadinejad said he believed Israel had 'hired mercenaries to assassinate me.'"