[QODLink]
Middle East
Confusion surrounds Iran blast
Officials say munitions accident may have caused explosion at a mosque in Shiraz.
Last Modified: 13 Apr 2008 12:50 GMT
Relatives gathered outside the mosque in Shiraz waiting for news of the victims [AFP]
At least 11 people have been killed and almost 200 others wounded in an explosion in a mosque in the southern Iranian city of Shiraz.

Initial reports said that the blast had been caused by a "home-made" bomb, but senior regional officials said on Sunday that it may have been an accident.
Commander Ali Moayeri, Fars province police chief, said that a display of munitions could have caused Saturday's blast.
 
"The incident could have happened as a result of negligence. A while ago at this site there was an exhibition commemorating the [1980-1988] Iran-Iraq war," he said.
Television pictures showed shards of glass and piles of debris outside Shiraz's Mosque of the Martyrs as large crowds waited for news of relatives.

The death toll is expected to rise due to the severity of some people's injuries, officials said.

'No bomb'

"Initial surveys have proved that no bomb was involved and therefore there have been other probable causes," Ebrahim Azizi, the governor of Fars province, was quoted as saying by the state-run IRNA news agency.

Earlier, the Fars news agency, citing city officials had reported that "a powerful bomb" had exploded.

Al Jazeera's Alireza Ronaghi in Tehran said that the Iranian government may be being cautious about the cause of the blast with the country just two weeks away from the second round of elections.

"What we see here is that some of the officials have expressed concern about the nature of this explosion," he reported.

"We have heard the speaker of the parliament saying today that government officials and the authorities need to investigate deeply and properly what this incident was."

Jaber Baneshi, the prosecutor in Shiraz, told IRNA that "a judicial probe has been launched to determine the cause of the explosion and the possibility of sabotage".

'Package planted'

However, Mohammad Anjavinejad, the preacher who was addressing the crowd at the mosque, reportedly cast doubt on the accident theory, saying that the force of the blast and the presence of an individual who planted a package in the building suggested otherwise.
  
"Some parties are trying to show this was an accident to portray the city as safe. But it is their duty to implement security"

Mohammad Anjavinejad, preacher
"Some parties are trying to show this was an accident to portray the city as safe. But it is their duty to implement security," he told the Alef news website.

The explosion took place at around 9pm local time (1630GMT) on Saturday during evening prayers.

State television urged people in Shiraz to donate blood for the wounded and said that all nurses in the city had been called to report for work.

Fars said the force of the blast shook houses more than one kilometre away.

"There was a huge blast and the whole place lit up. Everyone started shouting and screaming and tried to help each other," Marzian Mohammadnejad, a witness, told Iran's English language Press-TV.

Bahai faith banned

Fars reported that the mosque hosted weekly speeches denouncing Wahhabism - a version of Sunni Islam - and the outlawed Bahai faith. Iran is a predominantly Shia country.

Iran had been the cradle of the Bahai faith in the middle of the 19th century. After the Islamic revolution in 1979, the faith was banned and the country's constitution does not recognise it as a religious minority.
 
Last year, Bahai communities abroad said some of followers of the faith were detained in Shiraz while working with poor communities there.
 
Shiraz is close to a number of ancient sites popular with tourists.
 
Iran suffered its last major bombing in February 2007 in the southeastern city of Zahedan.
 
Thirteen members of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guard died in that blast, and a Sunni group called Jundallah, or God's Brigade, claimed responsibility for the attack.
Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
Topics in this article
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
An innovative rehabilitation programme offers Danish fighters in Syria an escape route and help without prosecution.
Street tension between radical Muslims and Holland's hard right rises, as Islamic State anxiety grows.
Take an immersive look at the challenges facing the war-torn country as US troops begin their withdrawal.
Ministers and MPs caught on camera sleeping through important speeches have sparked criticism that they are not working.
Featured
Spirits are high in Scotland's 'Whisky Capital of the World' with one distillery thirsty for independence.
President Poroshenko arrives in Washington on Thursday with money and military aid on his mind, analysts say.
Early players in private medicine often focused on volume over quality, turning many Chinese off for-profit care.
Al Jazeera asked people across Scotland what they think about the prospect of splitting from the United Kingdom.
Blogger critical of a lack of government transparency faces defamation lawsuit from Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
join our mailing list