A huge explosion at a military base occupied by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards has killed 27 soldiers near Tehran, according to reports.
Reportedly, at least 16 other people were injured.
According to the Iranian Parliament’s Web site, local MP Hossein Garousi confirmed that a large part of an ammunition depot exploded.”
The incident occurred in the village of Bigdaneh, near the city of Karaj.
Revolutionary Guard commander Ramezan Sharif told state-controlled TV that the deadly blast occurred when troops were transporting weapons inside a depot.
“My colleagues at the Guard were transporting ammunition at one of the depots at the site when an explosion occurred as a result of an accident,” Sharif said.
Sharif also said: Some of the casualties are reported to be in a critical condition.”
However, he did not explain what exactly caused the “accident.”
According to the Associated Press, a politician named Parviz Soroori assured the blast was not caused by sabotage.
“No sabotage was involved in this incident. It has nothing to do with politics,” Soroori said, according to the parliament’s Web site.
A resident of Karaj told BBC: We were kind of shocked [by the explosion]. I just ran out of the house and looked around.”
The BBC reported that the explosion was so massive, it shattered windows in nearby buildings and was even heard 25 miles away in central Tehran. Hours after the explosion, fires still raged around the compound.
This is not the first time a strange explosion has victimized the Revolutionary Guards. In October of last year, 18 people died at an explosion at a Guards base in Lorestan province in the northwest.
The Revolutionary Guard is an elite military force established in 1979 just after the Iranian revolution deposed the Shah and created an Islamic Republic. It has become a dominant force in Iranian society, and it is one of the central targets of the West’s sanctions against the country.
The blast at Kiraj occurs at a time when the west and Israel have become extremely worried about Iran’s nuclear weapons program. Last week, the United Nations’ nuclear monitoring group, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), issued a report declaring that it has credible evidence that Tehran is indeed developing atomic weapons.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is also reportedly mulling whether or not to engineer military strikes against Iran’s nuclear sites, as Israel had previously done in Iraq and Syria.