PRO-GOVERNMENT militiamen attacked the home of an Iranian opposition leader with homemade bombs and beat one of his bodyguards unconscious, an opposition website reported, in an apparent attempt to keep him from attending a key rally yesterday.
Mahdi Karroubi’s guards had to fire gunshots in the air to clear crowds that broke down the door of his home on Thursday night after days of gatherings outside, said the Sahamnews website, which supports Iran’s pro-reform movement. The report said the attackers were members of the plainclothes Basij militia, which led the crackdown on protests that swept the country in response to allegations of fraud in President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s June 2009 re-election.
Karroubi was one of the pro-reform candidates who ran against Ahmadinejad.
Crowds again encircled Karroubi’s residence yesterday, as Iranians filled Tehran’s streets for the annual state-sponsored rally known as Quds Day, or Jerusalem Day. The government uses the occasion as an anti-Israel outpouring and to show its support for the Palestinians. But last year, Karroubi and other opposition leaders used the day to gather tens of thousands of their own supporters into the streets, and violent clashes broke out with security forces.
Crowds of hardline protesters have gathered at the gate of his home for several days, apparently because they believed he would try to attend the rally again this year, though none of the opposition leaders had called for demonstrations.
Karroubi’s son, Hossein said dozens of hardliners were continuing to damage the opposition leader’s home and police were not responding to the scene.
President Ahmadinejad, meanwhile, addressed the Tehran rally, saying Israel and its supporters are too weak to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities. Israel, the USA and other nations believe Iran intends to develop atomic weapons under cover of its civil nuclear power programme. Iran denies that, saying its nuclear work is for peaceful purposes.
The president also dismissed the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks held in Washington this week, saying “the fate of Palestine will be decided in Palestine and through resistance and not in Washington.” Iran supports the Palestinian militant group Hamas.
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