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Iran: Tehran Bombings Point to State Terrorism

Bomb attacks on the offices of British Petroleum and British Airways suggest that hard-line elements allied to the Iranian government are carrying out terrorist acts to put pressure on the British government.

On Wednesday, a small bomb exploded outside the offices of the British companies, the second time the offices have been targetted in the past three months. No group has claimed responsibility for the attacks and no-one has been arrested. The bomb attacks came a day after the government-backed Union of Islamic Students of Iranian Universities issued a statement threatening to beseige the British embassy. It read: "We warn brutal and slavish regimes such as the British government to stop their evil mischief before the violent fires of the Muslim nation burn you, or else you will face consequences similar to the capture of the den of American spies" - a reference to the 444-day occupation of the US embassy that began on 4 November 1979.

Ahwaz City has also witnessed bomb attacks, the most recent carried out on 15 October when six people were killed after two explosions in a shopping centre. The city also saw attacks in the run-up to the June presidential election, which reformist presidential candidate Mustafa Moin suggested could be the work of those seeking the election of a military figure.

The bomb attacks in Ahvaz have been followed by a wave of arrests of Arab tribal leaders, intellectuals, journalists and human rights activists. However, the attacks on BP and BA have not led to a similar crack-down on violent anti-Western elements who are either allied to or supported by the regime.

Nasser Bani Assad, spokesman for the British Ahwazi Friendship Society, said: "The regime arrested 30 Arabs just hours after the Ahwaz City bombings and claims that all have confessed to carry out the attacks and receiving training from the British. The regime claims it has been more successful than any other government in the world in arresting terrorist suspects. So why has it been unable to identify and arrest those responsible for bombing British companies in Tehran?

"The fact is that almost every terrorist act in Iran is carried out by the government and its allies. The Ahwaz bombings were intended to implicate the British in terrorism and to rally nationalist support behind hard-liner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The regime does not care if a few Arabs die in the attacks, for it has been willing to sacrifice Arab lives and livelihoods for the sake of its land confiscation programme in Khuzestan.

"The bombings of British firms in Tehran were carried out to terrorise British companies into putting political pressure on the Blair government to back down over the nuclear dispute. But this time it chose smaller and less lethal bombs in order not to turn public anger against the anti-Western line adopted by Ahmadinejad.

"The Ahmadinejad administration is one of the cruellest and most violent in Iranian history. No-one should under-estimate the extent it will go to in order to achieve its objectives."