Iran Guards deny siege on Iran opposition leader

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TEHRAN: Iran’s Revolutionary Guards on Sunday denied they and Islamist militiamen had besieged opposition leader Mehdi Karroubi’s home, but urged that the cleric and "seditionists" like him be tried.

The Guards, in a statement carried by ILNA news agency, said that the siege on Karroubi’s home earlier this week was instigated by "rogue elements" who were not linked to the force or to the Basij militia.

"The incident was the work of imprudent and rogue elements. The instigators were completely rogue and unrelated to sacred organizations of Basij and Sepah (Guards)," it said.

Karroubi’s website had reported that Guards and Basij men had surrounded the cleric’s home on Friday to prevent attendance at an annual pro-Palestinian rally, which last year saw anti-government protests.

It said militiamen had been gathering outside Karroubi’s residential building since last Sunday, and on Thursday night even "got inside the building after smashing down the door."

"The attackers opened fire and threw Molotov cocktails at the building," the website said, describing Thursday’s attack. It said Karroubi’s chief bodyguard was badly beaten and later went into a coma.

But the Guards condemned what they said was "hyping of a trivial issue," adding that there was "shooting from his (Karroubi’s) residence which injured a few people."

"We insist that the best way to deal with the seditionists is through a natural and popular trial," the Guards said.

Karroubi and fellow opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi have steadfastly refused to acknowledge President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s government since his re-election last year.

Ever since the 1979 revolution, Iran has organized pro-Palestinian marches on the last Friday of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

But last year the opposition used such government-sponsored rallies to organize protests against Ahmadinejad’s controversial re-election that June.

Iran’s hardliners have regularly called for prosecution of Karroubi and Mousavi, calling them "heads of sedition."

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