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Huge blast rocks military base near Tehran

By Reuters
Saturday, November 12, 2011 7:24 EDT
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TEHRAN (Reuters) – A massive explosion at a military weapons depot near the Iranian capital Tehran on Saturday killed several people and was felt at least 45 km (30 miles) away, local media reported.

The Revolutionary Guards — Iran’s elite military force — said a munitions store at a base in Bidganeh, near the city of Karaj, had exploded, according to a statement carried by the semi-official Fars news agency.

“Around noon today there was an explosion in one of the arsenals belonging to the Revolutionary Guards near Tehran,” Fars quoted the statement as saying. Several people had been killed, Fars said, without giving further details.

The blast was so big it was felt in western suburbs of Tehran, 45 km away, witnesses told Reuters. Many assumed there had been a low-level earthquake. Some media reports said the initial blast was followed by a second explosion.

There were no reports linking the blast to any air strike or other attack. Tension has risen in recent weeks between Iran and its enemies Israel and the United States, which have not ruled out striking nuclear facilities they believe are working toward making atomic weapons, a charge Tehran denies.

On October 12 last year a similar blast at a Revolutionary Guards munitions store killed and wounded several servicemen in Khoramabad, western Iran. Authorities said that explosion was an accident.

(Reporting by Ramin Mostafavi and Mitra Amiri; Writing by Robin Pomeroy; Editing by Peter Graff)

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