President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's convoy attacked according to Iranian media
TEHRAN -- An explosive was thrown at the motorcade of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in central Iran on Wednesday, witnesses said. But his office quickly denied any attack had taken place, saying a "firecracker" had gone off.
Witnesses described the incident as minor. One person was arrested, according to accounts posted on Iranian Web sites.
After the incident, Ahmadinejad gave a previously scheduled speech, which was broadcast live on state television. He appeared unhurt. Media reports said his car was about 100 yards from the site where the explosion occurred.
"On the path between the airport and stadium, while the convoy was crowded with people, there was suddenly a relatively loud sound, and some smoke," said a local reporter who was on the scene but asked to remain anonymous. "It did not even warrant Ahmadinejad's security team to act."
Iranian Web sites initially reported that the explosive device was thrown by a man standing in a crowd of people that lined the streets of the city of Hamedan on the route to the stadium where Ahmadinejad was scheduled to speak.
Photos released by the semi-official Fars News agency showed the president standing up and extending his head and body through the sun roof of his armored sport utility vehicle. Onlookers waved flags, and families lifted up their children in hopes that Ahmadinejad would kiss them.
Officials close to Ahmadinejad said the incident was a misunderstanding.
"There was an accident, a loud bang, but no attack whatsoever," an aide to the president said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
Khabar Online and other Web sites later removed the news of the incident from their sites. The official, state-run media has not carried any images of disturbances.
"On the sidelines of the welcome of Dr. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad by the people of Hamedan, in one of the routes the sound of a firecracker was heard. This event did not inflict any injuries," the semi-official ISNA News Agency reported from Hamedan.
Ahmadinejad regularly travels to Iran's 30 provinces. His visits usually attract thousands of visitors who are given relatively easy access to him, and security incidents are highly uncommon.
The incident comes two days after Ahmadinejad accused Israel in a speech of hiring people to kill him.
Erdbrink contributed to this report from Amsterdam.