Iran says 'jihadist separatists' behind attack as probe points to IS
Tehran: Iran on Tuesday identified the perpetrators of a deadly attack on a military parade as "jihadist separatists", announcing a series of arrests and appearing to tie the Islamic State group to the bloodshed.
The intelligence ministry published photos of the five men it said carried out the assault Saturday in the southwestern city of Ahvaz that killed 24 people including a four-year-old child and other civilians.
"The five members of a terrorist squad affiliated to jihadist separatist groups supported by Arab reactionary countries were identified," the ministry said in a statement.
"The terrorists' hideout was found and 22 people involved (in the attack) were arrested," it said, adding that explosives were seized along with military and communications equipment.
The attack targeted a parade in Khuzestan province commemorating the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war.
The border region, which has a large ethnic Arab community, was a major battleground of the conflict and saw ethnic unrest in 2005 and 2011.
Iranian officials initially blamed Arab separatists, who they claimed were behind previous unrest, for the latest attack.
This version was bolstered when a movement called "Ahwaz National Resistance", an Arab separatist group, claimed responsibility shortly after the assault.
But the Islamic State group (IS) was also quick to claim responsibility and later posted a video of men it said were the attackers.