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Iran says explosion near president just fireworks
TEHRAN — Iran’s official news agency said Wednesday that an explosion near the president’s convoy was just an excited fan setting off fireworks, denying earlier reports of an assassination attempt.
A fan set off a firecracker similar to those used during sports matches to express his excitement at Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s visit to the western Iranian town of Hamedan, reported the IRNA news agency.
The explosion near the president’s convoy had set off a flurry of media reports, including one that it was a handmade grenade.
The conservative Iranian website, khabaronline.ir, said a grenade exploded as the president’s convoy headed from the airport to the venue for the speech, but did not harm him.
Eyewitnesses in Hamedan told the Associated Press by telephone that the explosion definitely came from a firecracker.
“It was a firecracker, which made a sound and produced smoke near where I was standing,” Amin Mehrabi said. “Many people filmed it with their cell-phone cameras.”
Mr. Ahmadinejad went on to give his speech as planned, and it was broadcast live on state television. He made no mention of the incident in his remarks, focusing instead on the country’s disputed nuclear program.
He struck a hard line against Western demands that Iran halt its nuclear activities. The U.S. and its allies accuse Iran of trying to develop atomic weapons, but Tehran insists its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.
“It will be one of your big mistakes if you think you, resorting to lies and hue and cry, are able to achieve something and we will give you any concessions,” Mr. Ahmadinejad told the crowd at the stadium.
One person was arrested in connection with the incident, the website report said, adding that Mr. Ahmadinejad’s car was about 100 yards from the blast. It also said there was no information whether anyone was injured.
“The explosion caused a lot of smoke,” the report said.
Mr. Ahmadinejad, whose popularity at home is waning amid a faltering economy and tightened U.N. and Western sanctions over Tehran’s nuclear program, regularly tours the countryside to deliver speeches to grass-roots supporters in cities and town across Iran.
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