Iran denies reports Ahmadinejad attacked after explosion

Breaking news Reports claiming an attacker threw a grenade at the Iranian president's convoy have been denied.

Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was unhurt today after an explosive device, officially described as a firecracker, went off near his motorcade. Mr Ahmadinejad was on his way to a sports arena to make a speech in Hamadan, south of the capital, when the explosion occurred. Conservative website Khabaronline, the first source to report the incident initially said a hand grenade was thrown at his motorcade but later in the day dropped "grenade" in its report and used the word "firecracker" instead. "This morning a hand grenade exploded next to a vehicle carrying reporters accompanying the president" the website, close to parliament speaker Ali Larijani, said first. "Ahmadinejad's car was 100 metres away and he was not hurt," it said, adding that the alleged attacker was detained. Iran's Mehr news agency quoting witnesses as saying a "hand-made noise bomb exploded a far distance from the president's car." "Nobody was hurt and several people have been arrested," the agency said. Mr Ahmadinejad later delivered his speech and made no reference to the incident. An official in the president's media office told AFP the explosion was from a "firecracker." The ISNA and ILNA news agencies also said the blast was caused by a "firecracker," while Fars news agency said a "hand-made grenade" had been thrown at the motorcade. "After the president's motorcade passed someone threw a hand-made grenade at the vehicles behind it," Fars said. The agency used the Farsi word "narenjak," which means both a hand grenade of the military sort and a noisy home-made firecracker, the size of a tennis ball, that Iranians set off at festive events such as the New Year fire festival. "Security agents arrested the person who threw it," Fars said, adding that the incident had "irritated" well-wishers, but not saying if anyone had been hurt. The incident came only two days after Mr Ahmadinejad repeated his claim that Iran's enemy Israel wants him dead. "Stupid Zionists have hired mercenaries to assassinate me," Mr Ahmadinejad said in a televised speech to expatriate Iranians on Monday. Today, Iran's foreign ministry spokesman also insisted that the hardliner is on Israel's hit list. "It is quite evident that the Zionist forces are under state orders to assassinate different figures in the Islamic world," Ramin Mehmanparast told reporters. "They may dare in their mind to assassinate Islamic world figures as soon as they have access to them and one of the greatest enemies of this regime is Dr Ahmadinejad." The animosity between Iran and Israel has steadily worsened under the presidency of Mr Ahmadinejad who has infuriated the world powers by dismissing the Holocaust as a "myth." Israel too has never ruled out a military strike against Iran to stop its nuclear programme. On its part, Iran does not acknowledge Israel. * AFP