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Iran denies Cypriot parliamentary speaker attacked in Tehran

TEHRAN, May 18 (AFP) - Iran on Tuesday denied newspaper reports that Cypriot parliament speaker Sypros Kyprianou had been the target of a bomb attack in Tehran.

"Based on (our) investigations, such reports are totally unfounded," the official news agency IRNA quoted an unidentified Iranian foreign ministry official as saying.

The Iranian newspaper Jomhuri Islami reported Tuesday that a bomb had exploded as Kyprianou entered the Cypriot embassy here, causing damage but no casualties.

It said several people had been arrested, and one had allegedly admitted having "links with the Turkish secret services."

The director general of the Cypriot foreign ministry, Andreas Pirishis told AFP in Nicosia however that the incident, which he said occurred on Sunday, had nothing to do with Kyprianou.

"Three or four individuals tried unsuccessfully to enter the premises of the residence of the Cypriot ambassador to Tehran," he said.

"They attacked the guard, and before fleeing threw an object that could have been a bomb, but which did not explode. It is up to the police to discover what kind of thing it was."

He said the ambassador, who was at the airport meeting Kyprianou at the time of the attack, had received anonymous threats a few days previously, along with a demand for 300,000 dollars.

The ambassador informed the police at the time, and protection of his residence had been stepped up, Pirishis said.

Kyprianou, 67, who served as Cyprus president from 1977-88, arrived here late Sunday for a visit of several days.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded its northern third following a Greek-Cypriot coup in Nicosia seeking union with Athens.

Ankara, which is the sole government to recognize a breakaway Turkish Republic of North Cyprus, maintains 35,000 troops on the eastern Mediterranean island.

Relations between Iran and Turkey have been strained recently over the affair of a newly elected Turkish member of parliament, Merve Kavakci, who was prevented from taking the oath of office because she insisted on wearing her Islamic headscarf.

There have been a number of demonstrations in Iran in support of Kavakci.


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