by Staff Writers
Tehran (AFP) Nov 17, 2011
The number of Revolutionary Guards killed in a munitions blast at a base outside Tehran last Saturday rose to at least 36, according to Iranian media tolls collated by AFP on Thursday.
The figure -- based on news reports giving the names of each of the men buried -- was more than double the toll of 17 dead given by a Revolutionary Guards spokesman on the day of the explosion.
The spokesman said at the time that 23 Revolutionary Guards were wounded, some of them critically.
The huge blast at the base in Bid Ganeh, near Tehran, notably killed General Hassan Moqaddam, a key figure in the Revolutionary Guards' ballistic missile programme.
Iranian military officials said repeatedly the explosion was an accident, implicitly rejecting speculation in Israeli and Western media that it might have been a covert military operation by Israel or the United States.
The chief of staff of Iran's armed forces, General Hassan Firouzabadi, said on Wednesday the base was being used in the production of "an experimental product" being developed to unleash "a strong fist in the face" of the United States and Israel.
He did not elaborate, but said development of the military product had been delayed by "two weeks" because of the blast.
The raised death toll was based on a compilation of reports of funerals in Iran's news agencies over the past few days, as well as newspapers published on Thursday. The articles identified those buried by name, for a total of 36 names.
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