A bomb detonated near a military parade in the small Iranian city of Mahabad, killing 12 spectators and wounding 75. Reports indicate the bomb was placed in a tree near the seating area for high-ranking military officials. Mahabad, located in Iran's mountainous northwest, is predominantly Kurdish. Iranian authorities have blamed Kurdish terrorists for the attack. Here's what the reports have to say.
Why Mahabad Matters The L.A. Times' Borzou Daragahi explains, "Mahabad lies in Iran's restless Kurdish heartland and carries enormous symbolic weight for ethnic Kurds throughout the world. It was the capital of a short-lived Kurdish autonomous republic set up in 1946 and the birthplace of Massoud Barzani, the de facto leader of Iraq's semiautonomous Kurdistan region. The Kurdish separatist Free Life Party of Kurdistan operates in the area and has clashed with Iranian troops in recent years. Iran has often accused the U.S. of supporting the rebel group, the Iranian branch of the Kurdistan Workers Party, which has been fighting the Turkish government for decades. Kurds are believed to be the world's largest ethnic group without a homeland. They have been fighting for autonomy and cultural rights against the governments of Iran, Iraq, Turkey and Syria for decades."
- Will Worsen Tension With Kurds The Christian Science Monitor's Tom Peter warns, "Tensions in Iran’s restive Kurdish region are likely to escalate after a bombing there Wednesday left at least 10 people dead and dozens wounded. No one has claimed responsibility yet, but officials are calling it a 'terrorist attack.' At least one Iranian leader has implied that Kurdish separatists may have been involved, but no official charges have been made. ... There has been a long-running conflict between Iranian forces and Kurdish guerrillas in the area who conduct regular attacks inside Iran and Turkey. Lately reports have emerged that in recent months Iranian authorities have arrested, tried, and executed Kurdish activists in the area, reports the BBC."
- Iran Blames U.S. The UK Telegraph's Richard Spender reports, "Iran has regularly accused America, the CIA and Britain of being behind all terrorist activity in the country. 'This act has foreign origins,' said Vahid Jalalzadeh, the governor of the province where the attack took place. 'Unfortunately America and its allies are present in the region and their support for counter-revolutionaries and hypocrites has been proven.'"
- Did It Hit the Wrong Target? The Associated Press's Nasser Karimi writes, "The [Kurdish separatist] group in Iran has generally not targeted civilians in its campaign for greater rights for the Kurdish minority, raising the prospect that the bomb might have gone off prematurely. A state radio report said the device was detonated on a timer and had been placed under a bush near the parade route. There was no immediate claim of responsibility."
- Secretary Clinton Condemns Attack, Offers Sympathy Foreign Policy's P.J. Aroon reports, "'The United States condemns terrorism and all forms of violence against innocent people, wherever it occurs,' Secretary Clinton said today in a statement in response to the bombing at a military parade in Mahabad, Iran." Clinton continued, "I condemn the bombing targeting Iranians attending a parade in Mahabad today and offer my sympathy to the families and loved ones of those injured and killed. The perpetrators of this attack should be brought to justice and held accountable."