One day after residents heard a series of loud explosions in Western Iran, authorities continue to offer contradictory explanations, with no clear conclusion.
The explosions were heard in many cities across the provinces of Kermanshah, Hamedan and Kordestan Saturday night, causing numerous speculations and rumors by residents of the region as well as officials.
Soon after the blasts, Saeed Ketabi, the governor of Asadabad city in the Hamadan province – which is reportedly the epicenter of the explosions -- confirmed that a loud noise was heard and rejected earlier reports about the noise coming from thunders and storms.
At the same time some sources claimed that the sounds were part of an air defense exercise by the Islamic Republic's Armed Forces and some reports quoted Iran's Revolutionary Guard as saying that they launched air defense drills in the region.
Social media reports said that there was anti-aircraft activities with some twitter users saying an anti-aircraft missile was fired and then there was one explosion near or at a military base.
However, Khatam al-Anbia Air Defense Base rejected the news, stating that no military training, exercise, or operations took place in the country Saturday night.
Iran's aviation authorities added to the mystery by confirming that flights were cancelled in Western Iran at the time the explosions were heard, but say it was just because of weather conditions, not any explosion.
After a series of contradictory and failed explanations, the authorities are apparently back to the older version they had put forward, to give off a vibe of being in control. Officials from the interior ministry said on Sunday that the loud sounds heard in several western cities were the result of lightning.
Some unnamed “informed source” is quoted by Tasnim – a news agency with links to IRGC – that the sounds were actually “thunder and lightning”, as if the inhabitants of the Zagros Mountains region are new to the phenomenon.
The source also denied reports attributing the sounds to acts of sabotage or foreign attack. Similar sounds of explosion were heard in early December around Natanz nuclear facility in central Iran, which officials said came from military drills.
Earlier this month, the sound of aloud explosion was heard in a town near Tehran, prompting IRGC to announce it as the result of a “controlled rocket launch”.
Tensions are high in the region amid Iran’s nuclear talks with world powers. Israel has repeatedly said it will not tolerate Iran reaching a nuclear breakout point, while Tehran has threatened severe retaliation in case of any attack.
Iran has held several military exercises in recent months.
After the downing of the Ukrainian flight PS752 with two missiles in January 2020, the Iranian government and the IRGC tried to hide the true cause for three days, and only came forth to admit the tragic incident was not an ordinary plane crash, after amateur video footage emerged showing the plane exploding.