Iran Vows Revenge on U.S., Blames It for Mecca Deaths

Associated Press

Iran's Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini today pledged revenge against the United States, holding it responsible for the killing of hundreds of Iranian pilgrims in Mecca during clashes with Saudi police.

An Iranian official today claimed the toll from Friday's clashes rose to at least 600 Iranians dead and 4,500 wounded. The Saudis say 402 people, 275 of them Iranian, were killed and 649 hurt when an Iranian anti-American demonstration grew violent Friday, the eve of the annual Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca.

The United States has denied any role in the clashes.

Khomeini, Iran's 87-year-old revolutionary and spiritual leader, did not say how Iran would respond against "arch-Satan" America, but said revenge would come "in an opportune time."

His remarks came in a message to Hojatoleslam Mahdi Karrubi, head of the estimated 155,000-strong Iranian pilgrims to the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia, Tehran radio reported.

"We have placed these crimes to the account of the U.S. and we shall demand repayment and take revenge for the blood of the children of Abraham," Khomeini said.

Iran's President Ali Khamenei told a group of navy men that America yields only to force and would be addressed that way, Iran's official Islamic Republic News Agency, also monitored in Nicosia, reported today.

On Sunday, the Speaker of Iran's Parliament, Hashemi Rafsanjani, called for the overthrow of the government of Saudi Arabia in retaliation for the violence at Mecca.

In West Beirut, today, a bomb exploded at the Saudi Arabian cultural center, and police said 10 civilians were wounded. It was the second bomb attack on a Saudi facility in the Lebanese capital in 24 hours.

The bomb went off at 5:45 p.m. at the entrance to the closed cultural center, police said. They estimated the bomb contained 20 pounds of explosives.

Police said the blast shattered furniture and tore ceilings apart in several rooms of the center, which is in a six-story building.

Unidentified gunmen on Sunday hurled a bomb at the empty Saudi Embassy in Muslim West Beirut, causing damage but no casualties.

There was no claim of responsibility for the bombings.

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