Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (courtesy Radio Netherlands)

Gunmen ambushed the motorcade of Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, leaving his driver and one of his bodyguards dead, however the hard-line leader escaped injury because he was not in the car at the time.

“At 6:50 pm on Thursday, the lead car in the presidential motorcade confronted armed bandits and trouble-makers on the Zabol-Saravan highway,” the semi-official Jomhouri Islami reported today. “In the ensuing armed clash, the driver of the vehicle, who was an indigenous member of the security services, and one of the president’s bodyguards died, while another bodyguard was wounded.”

Tehran often uses “bandits” and “trouble-makers” to identify its political opponents.

No information was offered for Ahmadinejad’s location during the shootout or response afterwards. According to Iran Focus News, residents of the city of Zabol in the southeastern province of Sistan and Baluchestan report rumors the president himself was the gunmen’s target.

“Many people have been rounded up for questioning after the attack and the authorities here were clearly shaken by the incident,” a Zabol resident said.

Ahmadinejad had been touring the troubled Sistan-Baloochestan province since Wednesday where ethnic Sunni Baluchis have been fighting for autonomy from Iran’s Shiite theocratic government. It was there he made recent comments calling the Holocaust a “myth.”

Ahmadinejad returned to Tehran Friday after giving a speech on the need for increased security.

An Iranian student dissident group is reporting rumors that some circles within the Islamic regime may have been involved in the apparent assassination attempt, providing the necessary information to identify the vehicle.

“Atomic Iran” author Jerome Corsi believes this attack will serve as pretext for further repression and a hardening of Iran’s resolve to go nuclear.

“Justified as ‘security measures,’ the regime will undoubtedly use this attack as an excuse to persecute those within Iran who are still bravely pushing for democracy and reform,” says Corsi. “Ahmadinejad is taking Iran in a conservative direction and he has the full support of Ayatollah Khamanei. Ahmadinejad’s continuing verbal assaults against Israel suggest that Iran desires a confrontation with Israel and the West, including the United States.”

Today, Ahmadinejad stepped up his anti-Israel rhetoric, calling on the world’s Muslims to be on guard against the Jewish state. “The Zionist regime is today a threat to the whole Middle East region and therefore Moslems should increase their vigilance against this regime,” Ahmadinejad told local officials.

“Iran may well be ready to expand its radical Islamic revolution beyond Iran,” says Corsi, “but the recent democratic vote in Iraq shows the ineffectiveness of measures like sending terrorists and weapons into Iraq to attack American troops and disrupt the peace process.

“Seeing the Iraq election succeed and listening to Ahmadinejad’s recent outbursts against Israel, I fear the regime has decided nobody can stop their push to enrich uranium. I fully expect more internal repression from the Iranian regime and continued aggressive outbursts against Israel. The regime may well be preparing to pull out of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and go its own way, regardless of world disfavor or the risk of increased sanctions.”

Related offer:

From WND Books – ‘Atomic Iran’ – Best-selling ‘Unfit for Command’ author exposes threat of nuclear terror

Special offers:

Avoid the crowds – finish shopping from home at WND’s Christmas Store!

More great Christmas ideas from WND

Previous story:

Israel: Iran 3 months to nuclear point of no return

Iran only months away from nuke?

Russia equips Iran for war

Iran’s radicals in control of nuke program

Iran president: Terrorist, murderer

Note: Read our discussion guidelines before commenting.