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Two bombs rock Iranian oil cities, 6 wounded

By Staff
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TEHRAN, Feb 27: Two bombs exploded in the southern Iranian cities of Dezful and Abadan today wounding at least six people, officials said.

The bombs were planted in the governor's office in both cities, which lie in the oil-producing province of Khuzestan that has seen ethnic tensions between Iranian authorities and the Arab minority over the last year.

''There were no fatalities but at least four people were wounded in Dezful and two in Abadan,'' a local official told Reuters by telephone.

Both blasts occurred far away from any oil facilities in the oil-rich Khuzestan province, where small bombs damaged 15 pipelines and one oil well in September.

''The oil refinery has not been damaged. The refinery is not near the blast site,'' said a spokeswoman for the Abadan oil refinery.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the bombings, which were the latest in a string of attacks and violence this year in Khuzestan province, the heartland of Iran's oil industry.

''Hopefully, those behind the bombings will soon be found and punished,'' Hamid Ghanaati, governor-general of Dezful, told the official IRNA news agency.

Ten Minutes apart officials said the two blasts, ten minutes apart, shattered windows of the government buildings, where the bombs went off.

''The bombs were hidden in the washrooms of the two buildings,'' an unnamed provincial official told Islamic Republic News Agency.

''The buildings were heavily damaged and are closed.'' Khuzestan, which borders Iraq, contains most of Iran's Arabic-speaking minority.

Officials have blamed the violence on exile-based separatist groups and have accused Britain of stirring unrest in Khuzestan.

London denies the charge.

Violence erupted in Khuzestan in April when at least five people were killed during several days of anti-government demonstrations.

Seven people were killed in bombings in June and six died in a blast in October. Eight people were killed last month when bombs ripped through a bank and government building.

About three per cent of Iran's 69 million people are Arabs.

Authorities are sensitive about protests and discontent in the southwestern Arab territories.

REUTERS

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