A man carries a wounded soldier during an attack in Ahvaz, southwestern Iran, on September 22, 2018
Twenty-four people, including women and children, were killed Saturday in an attack on a military parade in southwestern Iran for which Tehran accused a "foreign regime" backed by Washington.
Called "terrorist" by the Iranian authorities, the attack, which has not been claimed in the immediate future, has also left dozens wounded, some in serious condition.
It comes in a climate of very strong tensions between Iran and the United States, which are preparing to intensify their sanctions against the Islamic Republic in early November.
The attack was carried out in the early morning in Ahvaz, the capital of Khuzestan province, populated mainly by Arabs.
"Terrorists recruited, trained and paid by a foreign regime attacked Ahvaz [...] Iran considers regional sponsors of terrorism and their American masters responsible for such attacks," Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad wrote Javad Zarif on his Twitter account.
The Revolutionary Guards, the ideological army of the Islamic Republic, had earlier accused the attackers of being linked to an Arab separatist group backed by Saudi Arabia.
"Iran will react quickly and firmly to defend Iranian lives," warned Zarif on Twitter.
"Fed by Saudi Arabia" -
"The number of martyrs killed in the terrorist attack rises to 24, including women and children among the spectators, and this assessment could worsen to the extent that the wounded are in critical condition", writes the official agency Irna.
"More than 53 people have been injured and admitted to different hospitals," says Irna.
"Among the martyrs, there is a girl and a veteran who was killed in his wheelchair," Brigadier General Abolfazl Shekarchi, spokesman for the Iranian Armed Forces, said on state television.
"Of the four terrorists, three were sent to hell on the scene of the attack and the fourth, who had been wounded and arrested, came to hell little by little because of the severity of his injuries," added this general of the Guardians of the Revolution.
Earlier quoted by the semi-official Isna agency in the early afternoon, Ali-Hossein Hosseinzadeh, deputy governor of Khuzestan province, said a journalist and "eight or nine soldiers" were among the dead .
According to several Iranian media reports, the attackers were dressed in military fatigues.
"Those who opened fire on people and the armed forces are linked to the al-Ahvazieh movement," said Ramezan Sharif, spokesman for the Revolutionary Guards quoted by Isna.
"They are being fed by Saudi Arabia, and they have tried to overshadow the power of the Iranian armed forces," he added.
The bombing took place as Iran marks National Armed Forces Day, commemorating Baghdad's 22 September outbreak of the Iran-Iraq war (1980-1988) and the resistance of the "sacred defense". Iran during this "imposed war", according to the official phraseology.
Iran has been the scene in recent years of several attacks, including the Guardians of the Revolution.
Value of our missiles -
On July 20, 2018, at least 10 members of the Revolutionary Guards were killed in an insurgent attack on one of their bases in Iran's Kurdistan, in the north-west of the country.
On June 7, 2017, gunmen and suicide bombers attacked Imam Khomeini's parliament and mausoleum in Tehran, leaving 17 dead and dozens wounded, the first attacks claimed by the Islamic State (IS) group in Iran.
The Guardians of the Revolution had denounced the "involvement" of Saudi Arabia and the United States in the attacks.
Washington, accused by Washington of destabilizing the Middle East, has been in the crosshairs of the United States since Donald Trump came to power, reinstating sanctions against Tehran and announcing its withdrawal from the 2015 international agreement on terrorism. Iranian nuclear power.
Saudi Arabia, the United States' ally, is Iran's great regional rival, with the two countries opposing many issues in the Middle East, including the conflicts in Syria and Yemen.
Wounded Child During Attack in Ahvaz, Southwest Iran, September 22, 2018
In a speech in Tehran on Saturday shortly before the announcement of the bombing, Iranian President Hassan Rohani said his country would "day by day" increase its "defensive capabilities", referring to the missiles that develop his country and worrying the Westerners.
"We will never reduce our defensive capabilities [...] we will increase them day by day," Rohani said while presiding over a military parade in Tehran.