Deadly Explosions Rock Revolutionary Guards Base Outside Iranian Capital

State media reports several people killed after an ammunitions depot exploded in a base 40 kilometers west of Tehran.

At least one massive explosion at a military weapons depot near the Iranian capital Tehran on Saturday killed several people and was felt at least 45 km miles away, local media reported

The Revolutionary Guards - Iran's elite military force - said a munitions store at a base in Bidganeh, near the city of Karaj, had exploded, according to a statement carried by the semi-official Fars news agency.

Revolutionary Guard - AP - September 2011

"Around noon today there was an explosion in one of the arsenals belonging to the Revolutionary Guards near Tehran," Fars quoted the statement as saying. Several people had been killed, Fars said, without giving further details.

The blast was so big it was felt in western suburbs of Tehran, 45 km away, witnesses told Reuters. Many assumed there had been a low-level earthquake. Some media reports said the initial blast was followed by a second explosion.

There were no reports linking the blast to any air strike or other attack. Tension has risen in recent weeks between Iran and its enemies Israel and the United States, which have not ruled out striking nuclear facilities they believe are working towards making atomic weapons, a charge Tehran denies.

On Oct. 12 last year a similar blast at a Revolutionary Guards munitions store killed and wounded several servicemen in Khoramabad, western Iran. Authorities said that explosion was an accident.

In recent years several mysterious explosions took place in military installations in Iran. Two years ago 20 people were killed in a similar blast at a base 500 kilometers southwest of Tehran. According the Washington-based Global Security Institute, the base was used to assemble and store long-range Shihab-3 missiles.

Foreign media has reported in the past that the Israeli Mossad backs certain opposition activists and underground movements, and uses them to carry out attacks. Iran has blamed the CIA, Mossad and British intelligence in backing Jundollah (God's soldiers), a group which has waged a low-level insurgency in recent years. Its members accuse Iran's mostly Shi'ite government of persecution and have carried out attacks against the Revolutionary Guard and Shi'ite targets in southeastern Iran.