Iran accuses Israel of being behind Beirut bombings

2013-11-19 17:58

TEHRAN, Nov 19, 2013 (AFP) -Tehran accused Israel of carrying out deadly double blasts on Tuesday outside the Islamic republic's embassy in Beirut that killed at least one Iranian national, according to media reports.

The bombings were "an inhuman crime and spiteful act done by Zionists and their mercenaries," foreign ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham said in remarks carried by the official IRNA news agency.

Israel is Iran's main regional arch-foe whose existence Tehran does not recognise. The two do not see eye to eye over a number of issues, including Iran's disputed nuclear drive.

There were conflicting reports about Iranian casualties at the embassy.

In her statement to IRNA, Afkham also said Iran's cultural attache Ibrahim Ansari, a mid-ranking Shiite cleric, was killed in the bombings.

But speaking to state television later, she said Ansari is actually alive and showing "signs of life" despite being "critically wounded."

Iran's ambassador to Beirut, Ghazanfar Rokn-Abadi, gave a similar account.

He told state television that Ansari was in surgery in a Beirut hospital, while expressing hope that he would soon "regain full health".

The envoy had earlier said that all staff "inside the embassy" were unhurt in the attack.

In Tehran, state television and the Mehr and Fars news agencies said the Iranian killed in the blasts was a security guard who had been manning the embassy's gate.

The powerful explosions just opposite the multi-storey embassy in the southern suburbs of the Lebanese capital killed at least 23 people, wounded almost 150 others and caused widespread damage.

They follow two other bomb attacks this year in the southern suburbs of Beirut that are the bastion of the powerful Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah.

The group, which is sponsored by Iran, has drawn controversy for sending thousands of fighters into neighbouring Syria to support the regime of President Bashar al-Assad as he battles a 32-month-old uprising.

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