Iranian President unhurt after blast near motorcade

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was unharmed by an attack with a homemade explosive device on his motorcade during a visit to the western city of Hamadan today, a source in his office said.

The source said Ahmadinejad's convoy was targeted as he was travelling from Hamadan's airport to give a speech in a local sports arena. The president was unhurt but others had been injured in the blast. One person was arrested.



"There was an attack this morning. Nothing happened to the president's car," the source told Reuters. "Investigations continue ... to find out who was behind it."



Ahmadinejad, who has cracked down on opposition since a disputed June 2009 presidential election, appeared on live Iranian television at the sports stadium. He looked unperturbed and made no mention of any assault.



The populist, hardline Ahmadinejad has accumulated enemies in conservative and reformist circles in the Islamic Republic as well as abroad.



Al Arabiya television said an attacker had thrown a bomb at Ahmadinejad's convoy before being detained. Dubai-based Al Arabiya cited its own sources as saying the bomb had hit a car carrying journalists and presidential staff.



There was no immediate claim of responsibility.



The main Iranian state television channel remained silent about the explosion, while the English-language state news channel Press TV denied there had been any attack.



The semi-official Fars news agency, after initially reporting a man had thrown a home-made grenade, later changed its story to say a firecracker had been set off by a man who was excited to see the president.



Ahmadinejad's government is facing economic pain as new foreign sanctions imposed over Iran's disputed nuclear energy programme bite on the world's fifth biggest oil exporter.



Iranian leaders have responded to the pressure by accusing the West of plotting against the Islamic Republic. Domestic opponents are accused of being backed by foreign powers.



On Monday, during a speech to a conference of expatriate Iranians in Tehran, Ahmadinejad said he believed he was the target of an assassination plot by Israel. "The stupid Zionists have hired mercenaries to assassinate me," he said.



But one opposition activist said it was a very different thing for the president to talk of attacks and for an attack to actually take place.



"It is obviously a reflection of the fact that all is not well in Iran and control is not total, contrary to conventional wisdom," said Mehrdad Khonsari, a London-based Iranian opposition activist.







One of Ahmadinejad's trademarks has been constant travel around his vast country to deliver provocative speeches before outwardly adoring crowds who shout "death" to Iran's foes.









Several armed groups opposed to the government are active in Iran, mostly ethnic Kurds in the northwest, Baluch in the southeast and Arabs in the southwest.



The banned Mujahideen Khalq, listed by the United States as a terrorist group, carried out many anti-government attacks after the 1979 Islamic revolution. It was blamed for two 1981 bombings that killed dozens of senior officials in Tehran, including the president and prime minister.



But Shahin Gobadi, French-based spokesman for the Mujahideen, now part of an opposition coalition known as the National Council of Resistance of Iran, denied involvement.



Asked if his group was behind the attack, he said: "Absolutely not, absolutely not. It has nothing to do with us. I don't know what happened but it has nothing to do with us."



Ahmadinejad recently sought to isolate rival political factions by declaring that "the regime has only one party, which is the velayat" - a reference to Shi'ite Islam's hidden Imam, for now represented by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.



Just as combative towards external pressure, the president has derided sanctions over Iran's nuclear programme as "pathetic" and vowed to pursue what Iran says is a quest for nuclear energy, not weapons as the West believes.



On Monday, Ahmadinejad called on US President Barack Obama to face him in a televised one-on-one debate to see who has the best solutions for the world's problems.



Ahmadinejad, backed by Khamenei and the elite Revolutionary Guards, crushed street protests that greeted his disputed re-election in June 2009, although he has yet to silence losing reformist candidates Mirhossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karoubi.



The president, first elected in 2005, also seems bent on displacing an older layer of conservative leaders and clerics whose influence dates back to the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
  • Get to the point
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Photographer / Floorplanner / Domestic Energy Assessor

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Photographer/ Floor planner /...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Surrey - £40,000

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Guildford/Craw...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Assistant

£13500 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Assistant is...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £35,000

£16000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An ambitious and motivated Sale...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence