TEHRAN: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad escaped an assassination attempt after a handmade grenade exploded near his convoy on Wednesday, an Iranian website said. Tehran state TV denied the report.
Other media reported an explosion in the area but gave conflicting accounts about the cause. Some said it was a firecracker.
The website, khabaronline.ir, said the grenade detonated near Ahmadinejad’s convoy as he was on his way to address a crowd in the western Iranian town of Hamedan but did not harm him.
Iran’s Arabic-language Al-Alam TV reported that the firecracker was set off to cheer the president.
Al Arabiya television said an attacker had thrown a bomb at Ahmadinejad’s convoy before being detained. Both television reports said some people were wounded in the attack.
"There was an attack this morning. Nothing happened to the president’s car," sources told Reuters. "Investigations continue, to find out who was behind it."
Ahmadinejad later delivered a live televised speech to locals gathered in a stadium and made no reference to the alleged incident.
He struck a hard line against Western demands that Iran halt its nuclear activities. The US and its allies accuse Iran of trying to develop atomic weapons, but Tehran insists its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.
"It will be one of your big mistakes if you think you, resorting to lies and hue and cry, are able to achieve something and we will give you any concession," Ahmadinejad told the crowd at the Hamedan stadium.
On Monday, during a speech to a conference of expatriate Iranians in Tehran, Ahmadinejad said he believed he was the target of an assassination plot by Israel. "The stupid Zionists have hired mercenaries to assassinate me," he said.
On Tuesday, Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman also insisted that the hardliner is on Israel’s hit list.
"It is quite evident that the Zionist forces are under state orders to assassinate different figures in the Islamic world," Ramin Mehmanparast told reporters.
"They may dare in their mind to assassinate Islamic world figures as soon as they have access to them and one of the greatest enemies of this regime is Dr Ahmadinejad."
Baqer Moin, a London-based Iran expert, said Hamadan was a stable area without any notable ethnic or local tension.
"Let’s wait and see who they accuse, an internal or an external enemy," Moin said.
Shahin Gobadi, spokesman for Opposition National Council of Resistance of Iran based in France denied his group was behind the attack "Absolutely not, absolutely not. It has nothing to do with us. I don’t know what happened but it has nothing to do with us." he said.
The populist, hardline Ahmadinejad has accumulated enemies in conservative and reformist circles in the Islamic Republic as well as abroad. On Monday, Ahmadinejad called on U.S. President Barack Obama to face him in a televised one-on-one debate to see who has the best solutions for the world’s problems.