A massive explosion killed at least five workers at the giant Pardis petrochemicals complex in southern Iran Wednesday, August 4, at around 12:30 – just about the time an explosive device was hurled at Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as his heavily secured armored convoy drove through the northern Iranian city of Hamadan. This is reported by debkafile's Iranian sources.
Ahmadinejad was unhurt although some of his bodyguards and bystanders were certainly injured. He made straight for Hamadan's central stadium and began delivering a speech that was broadcast live by state television.
Assaluyeh, the site of the Pardis complex, is situated at the opposite end of Iran, on its southern Persian Gulf coast not far from the Bushehr nuclear reactor. Iranian officials admit that large sections of the complex were destroyed but attributed the blast to a ruptured gas pipe. debkafile's intelligence sources report that the plant was hit by five explosive devices. It was new, personally inaugurated on July 28 by President Ahmadinejad, who described it as a miracle of Iranian hi-tech.
Iranian spokesman were also trying to play down the attempt on the president's life by a bomber present in the large audience surrounding his convoy. At first they reported that the target was the journalists' minivan riding in his convoy. But their security services made haste to put the Hamadan and Pardis attacks together for a joint investigation. They suspect some enemy antagonist may have sought to prove it can simultaneously strike at two major targets in opposite ends of the country and get close to the president and also the Bushehr reactor.
Assaluyeh the town is a particularly sensitive place, because it is the hub of the Pars Special Energy Economic Zone whose industries are fueled by the natural gas piped in from the giant South Pars field.
Three days before the petrochemical complex was inaugurated, there was another mysterious explosion at a second energy plant, this one located on Kharg Island.
Iran's security chiefs are beginning to suspect that one or more groups of covert saboteurs are at large on Iran's coast opposite the Strait of Hormuz and are gunning for the strategic industries and facilities located there.
Hamadan's population is incidentally purely Iranian Shiite with none of the ethnic or religious minorities persecuted by the regime. It was built at Biblical Shushan, the burial sites of Queen Esther and Mordecai, several hundreds kilometers west of Tehran.