The Iranian government yesterday accused Britain of organising and equipping bombers who killed eight people in attacks in the south-western city of Ahwaz on Tuesday.
The city is in the oil-rich province of Khuzestan, which borders Iraq.
Home to about two million Arabs, it was rocked by a wave of unrest last year, including bomb blasts in June and October.
Tehran said the attacks were organised between London and the British Army HQ in Basra.
Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said: ‘Britain must respond to the belief of Iranians concerning the events.’
Referring to a claim by a little-known Arab separatist group that it was behind the blasts inside a private bank and state environmental agency on Tuesday, Mottaki told a press conference in Tehran:
‘Yesterday’s murders in Ahvaz were committed by those who proudly have their photographs taken with British officials.
‘They enjoy the co-operation of British army commanders and use their facilities in Basra.
‘We hope British officials take this seriously, put it on their agenda and act accountably.’
He said: ‘It is clear to our officials and intelligence centres that the United Kingdom co-operated and had a hand in these bombings either in London or Basra.’
‘We hope that British officials would have a clear response in that regard.’
A Foreign Office spokesman in London denied the accusation, saying: ‘Any linkage between HMG (Her Majesty’s Government) and these terrorist attacks is completely without foundation.’
l Defence Secretary John Reid is due to make a statement to MPs in the House of Commons today, over reports that the government is sending 3,500 more UK troops to the dangerous Helmand province in south Afghanistan, where the Taleban is active.
This would bring the total number of UK troops in the country to 4,000.