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Iran denies media reports of attack on president - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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TEHRAN, (Reuters) – Iran denied on Monday media reports that a firefight last week in the country”s lawless southeastern borderlands was an assassination attempt on President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Government officials said Ahmadinejad was making a speech in Zahedan, capital of Sistan-Baluchistan province, on Wednesday when a car carrying security forces was attacked by smugglers on the road to the Gulf port of Chaharbahar.

&#34During the attack, the local driver and a Revolutionary Guardsman was killed. The police immediately intervened. One smuggler was killed and one arrested,&#34 government spokesman Gholamhossein Elham told a news conference.

Some domestic and foreign reports described the attack as an assassination attempt, but officials said the vehicle that came under fire was not part of Ahmadinjad”s cavalcade and that there had been no question of the president travelling on that road.

The vehicle had been deployed as part of largescale security measures imposed for the presidential visit.

&#34The attack just shows this region is very insecure for everyone: Sunnis, Shi”ites, Baluch and non-Baluch,&#34 Elham said.

The Baluch tribes of southeastern Iran are predominantly Sunni Muslims. Shi”ism is the official religion in Iran.

Sistan-Baluchistan is a main conduit for drugs moving to Europe from Afghanistan and Pakistan. More than 3,300 Iranian troops have died fighting well-armed traffickers since the 1979 Islamic revolution.

The area is dotted with police forts, which would explain how police were able to intervene quickly in the gunbattle.

In his speech in Zahedan, Ahmadinejad called the Holocaust a myth, sparking international uproar.

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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