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Iran says it captured Arab separatist group leader suspected of military parade attack

DUBAI, Nov 12 (Reuters) - Iran’s intelligence ministry has arrested an Iranian ethnic Arab separatist leader suspected of involvement in an attack on a military parade in 2018 in the Khuzestan province that killed dozens of people, Iranian state TV reported on Thursday.

An Iranian ethnic Arab opposition movement called the Ahvaz National Resistance, which seeks a separate state in Iran’s oil-rich Khuzestan province, claimed responsibility for the attack that killed 25 people, almost half of them members of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards.

Islamic State militants also claimed responsibility. Neither claim provided evidence.

“Farajollah Chaab, the leader of the separatist group, has been arrested by Iran’s intelligence ministry agents,” state TV said, without elaborating on when or how Chaab - who was based in Sweden - was arrested.

“Chaab has planned several other major attacks in Tehran and Khuzestan province in recent years ... he has recently been planning to launch a new terrorist operation that failed with the efforts of the intelligence ministry agents,” state TV added.

Iran has had tense relations with its minorities, including Arabs, Kurds, Azeris and Baluch, and has accused them of aligning with neighbouring countries rather than Tehran.

Iran’s top authority Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said at the time that the attackers were paid by Iran’s main regional rival Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE rejected Khamenei’s allegations. (Writing by Parisa Hafezi Editing by Alexandra Hudson)

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