Iran stepped up a war of words against neighboring Iraq today following charges that Iraqi warplanes bombed and strafed villages on the Iranian side of the border.
Rear Adm. Ahmad Madani, the governor general of Iran's oil-producing Khuzestan Province, the scene of recent fighting between government forces and autonomy-seeking Arabs, accused agents linked to the Iraq's Arab socialist government of "flooding Iran with weapons" in an effort to foment further unrest.
The official news media reported that Iran formally protested the alleged Iraqi air strike, but Iraqi officials in Tehran denied this.
Madani's statement, coupled with a harsh attack on the Iraqi leadership by the newspaper of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's Islamic Republican Party, seemed certain to aggravate strained relations between Tehran and Baghdad.
The official Pars news agency said six people were killed and four injured Monday when four Iraqi jets bombed and strafed several mountain communities.
Provincial officials said Tuesday that the planes were chasing Kurdish guerrillas. Some officials conceded that the alleged strike might have been an accident and that the pilots may have thought they were hitting Kurdish rebels in villages on the Iraqi side of the frontier.
Iranian authorities, however, seemed determined to make domestic capital of the incident, possibly with the aim of rallying public opinion against a perceived foreign enemy at a time when the Khomeini government is under fire at home from secular political groups and regional minorities.
Despite remaining differences, the government reached agreement today with members of Iran's minority Arab community on ending the fighting that flared last week in the port city of Khorramshahr in Khuzestan. The government agreed to dissolve the city's revolutionary committees and name more Arabs to local posts.
In another development, Foreign Minister Ibrahim Yazdi was quoted as saying in a speech that he rejected the appointment of Walter Cutler as U.S. ambassador "in view of the U.S. intervention in Africa and especially in Zaire." Cutler was formerly ambassador to Zaire.