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Six killed in southwest Iran bombings; president cancels regional visit | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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TEHRAN, Iran (AP) – Bombs killed six people and wounded more than 30 others Tuesday in Ahvaz, a southwestern city with a history of violence involving members of Iran’s Arab minority, Iranian state media reported.

The blasts detonated outside a bank and a state environmental agency building in Ahvaz, the capital of oil-rich Khuzestan province, which borders Iraq, the official Islamic Republic News Agency said.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad canceled a planned visit to Ahvaz Tuesday, citing a forecast calling for heavy rain, IRNA reported. The report did not say whether the blast had any bearing on the cancellation.

Ahmadinejad and his entire Cabinet had been expected to meet in Ahvaz as part of a series of visits to provincial capitals to address key local issues.

State TV said the bombs killed six people and wounded 34 others.

Ahvaz was also the scene of bombings last June and October that the government blamed on Iranian Arab extremists whom it claimed were trained abroad and maintained ties to foreign governments, including Britain.

The October bombings killed six people and those in June killed at least eight. Britain has denied any connection to the Khuzestan unrest.

Nezam Molla Hoveizeh, a Khuzestan lawmaker, said Tuesday that the bombers were “dissidents based outside our borders,” IRNA reported.

Hoveizeh did not elaborate on the allegation.

The explosions follow bitter exchanges between Tehran and London.

In recent months, Iran has repeatedly accused Britain of provoking unrest in Khuzestan, which borders that part of Iraq where 8,500 British soldiers are based as part of the U.S.-led military coalition.

At the same time, Britain has opposed Iran’s nuclear activities, supporting moves to refer it to the U.N. Security Council, and has accused Tehran of allowing Iraqi insurgents to receive explosives technology that has been used to attack British soldiers.

Both countries have denied the claims and counterclaims. Ahvaz was also the site of two days of riots last April after Arab separatists circulated reports that Iran’s government planned to decrease the proportion of Arabs in the area. The government denied the claims.

Arabs make up less than 3 percent of Iran’s population, and most live in Khuzestan.