Gunmen attack Iran military parade, killing at least 8

Wounded soldiers at the parade at Ahvaz Southwestern Iran after the attack by militants

Wounded soldiers at the parade at Ahvaz Southwestern Iran after the attack by militants

A general view of the attack during the military parade in Ahvaz, Iran September 22, 2018.

Khuzestan was a major battleground of the 1980s war with Saddam's Iraq and the attack on the anniversary parade in Ahvaz had significant symbolic value. The province has a large ethnic Arab community, many of them Sunni, the Muslim denomination to which IS adheres and which is a minority in Shiite Iran. In it, paramedics could be seen helping someone in military fatigues laying on the ground.

At first, those present appear to think that the gunfire could be part of the ceremony, but then quickly realize it is a hostile attack and immediately begin to scramble from the scene.

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Zarif vowed Iran would "respond swiftly and decisively in defence of Iranian lives".

Zarif on Twitter said that the gunmen were "terrorists recruited, trained, armed & paid by a foreign regime". Some media reports said that there were four assailants and that at least two had been killed.

Earlier reports described the attackers as "Takfiri gunmen", a term used in the past to describe the extremist Islamic State group. Iran has been deeply involved in the fight against IS in Iraq and has aided embattled Syrian President Bashar Assad in his country's long war.

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Meanwhile, Guard spokesman Gen. Ramazan Sharif told ISNA that an Arab separatist group carried out the attack, without elaborating.

The Revolutionary Guards are the most powerful and heavily armed military force in the Islamic Republic and also have a vast stake worth billions of dollars in the economy. However, those groups in the past previously have only attacked unguarded oil pipelines at night.

At least 18 people were killed and more than 50 wounded in the 2017 attack that saw gunmen carrying Kalashnikov assault rifles and explosives storm the parliament complex where a legislative session had been in progress, starting an hours-long siege.

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