Explosion Hits Government Office in Southwest Iran

A strong explosion ripped the governors office in Kermanshah, a city with a large Kurdish population in southwestern Iran, the Iranian news agency reported, saying there were a number of wounded.

The blast followed two shelling incidents by Iranian forces against Kurdish rebel positions inside Iraq last week and shortly after Turkey's deployment of thousands of troops on Iraq's northern border.

Kurdish rebels have increasingly reactivated their drive to consolidate autonomy gains made inside Iraq after the ouster of Saddam Hussein as they work toward their long-term goal of an independent homeland that includes heavily Kurdish regions in both Iran and Turkey.

The Iranian agency did not say what caused the 2 p.m. blast, but reported there were several injured removed from the governors office in the city, 280 miles southwest of Tehran and 90 miles east of the Iraqi border.

CountryWatch: Iran

Iranian and Turkish troops reportedly have penetrated into Iraqi Kurdish areas, and the Iranians shelled border positions inside Iraq twice last week, causing no casualties but uprooting residents. The Iranians launched a similar barrage April 21.

Rebels seeking self-rule in Kurdish areas of Iran have been operating from Iraqi territory, mounting attacks against Iranian army and Revolutionary Guard posts. Turkey has been fighting a Kurdish insurgency that has killed thousands in the southeast of the country.

Last month, Turkey deployed more than 30,000 additional troops in its Kurdish southeast and along its border with Iraq and Iran to fight Kurdish guerrillas and stop them from crossing the frontier.

That came after Kurdish rebels reportedly killed two Turkish soldiers and wounded a third, raising the number of Turkish troops killed this year to at least 17. More than 40 Kurdish guerrillas also have been killed in clashes in the same period.

Iran also has a large Arab population along its southern border with Iraq and there have been a series of deadly bombings in the region's largest city, Ahvaz, for which Tehran has blamed the United States and Britain.

Those attacks, however, are most likely the work of Arab nationalists in the region that formerly was part of Iraq, which is predominantly Arab.