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Iran now Blames Canada for Ahwaz Unrest

Seyyed Khalil Akbar, chief prosecutor for Iran's Khuzekstan province, claimed this week that the Canadian government was linked to the June bombings in Ahwaz City.

Speaking at a conference, he said: "The primary individuals responsible for the bombings were Iranian and were supported by foreign forces. They had received training in Britain and Canada and were in contact with these countries via the Internet and mail."

The Canadian government claimed the accusations were baseless. Canada has banned the Mujahideen-e-Khalq, an Iranian opposition group also banned in the US and the EU.

British Ahwazi Friendship Society spokesman Nasser Ban-Assad said: "The Iranian regime changes its mind on who is responsible for the bombings on a weekly basis. It has blamed the British, Americans, Iraqi Ba'athists, Arab separatists, Saudi Arabia, the Shell oil company, the Mujahideen-e-Khalq and now the Canadians for the bombings. But it has never substantiated its claims with any hard evidence. If Tehran sincerely believes all these governments, opposition groups and multi-national corporations were responsible for the Ahwaz bombings, then why the reluctance to publish the evidence? Could it be that no evidence exists?"

From the information that is currently available, the vehicles used in the attacks were Iranian-manufactured Peugeots which are out of the price range of most Iranians, the bombs were made with high-grade plastic explosives and the people killed were mostly Arabs. Bomb attacks also occurred in other parts of the country in the run-up to the presidential election.

Ban-Assad said: "An independent observer should ask themselves who has the capabilities to carry out such a well co-ordinated campaign and who benefits most. The bombings have certainly been useful to Iran's propaganda efforts and have been used as justification for violent repression as well as a way of deflecting international criticism of ethnic cleansing in Khuzestan.

"It is obvious why Canada has been blamed for the attacks. Iran has resisted Canadian pressure for an investigation into the death of Zahra Kazemi, a 54-year-old Canadian who was murdered and raped while in Iranian custody in 2003. Canada is putting pressure on Iran over its appalling human rights abuses and Iran is resorting to blaming Canada for the bombings."