More than 100 persons have been arrested, including two prominent generals, for their roles in Thursday's alleged coup attempt, Iranian officials said today. At least six dissident soldiers reportedly were killed in the western city of Hamadan, site of the plot.
The government has given few details of what happened in the alleged military takeover attempt, which it said was supported by the United States, Iraq and Israel. Officials also said the conspirators planned to bomb Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's home and restore the shah's last prime minister, Shahpour Bakhtiar, to power from his exile in Paris.
Diplomats expressed skepticism of the seriousness of the reported plot noting that it was the sixth announced unsuccessful coup attempt since President Abol Hassan Bani-Sadr was elected in January. The Islamic revolutionary government had often accused Israel and Iraq, which are bitter foes, of cooperating with the United States to undo Iran's revolution.
Officials have called for a day of fasting to offer thanks for the survival of the government.
Khomeini invoked the aid of God yesterday, saying, "Armed plots are nothing so long as God is with you. You saw how he helped us before."
This was a reference to the failure in April of the U.S. mission to rescue the American hostages.
This time, he said "God's help" came in the form of a dog that attacked a Revolutionary Guard on duty in Tehran and forced him to take refuge in a basement, where he discoved a "huge" arms cache. That reportedly led to the uncovering of the latest plot.
The two leading generals who were arrested were Lt. Gen. Said Mehdiyoun, former commander of the Iranian Air Force, and Lt. Gen. Ahmed Ali Mohaqeqi, former chief of the gendarmerie. Both held these positions after the revolution that overthrew the shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, in February 1979.
Hojatoleslam Mohammadi Reyshahri, chief of the Islamic revolutionary military tribunal, said in a newspaper interview that the two men would be tried next week.
The governor of the southwestern Khuzestan Province, Mohammed Gharazi, said 92 officers of the armored corps were arrested in connection with the plot.
So far, the only reported deaths occurred in a clash between Revolutionary Guards and a group of paratroopers near Hamadan. The paratroopers were said to have been involved in the coup conspiracy.
The plot was said to have called for dissident pilots to seize a military air base near Hamadan before bombing the residences of Khomeini and Bani-Sadr.