BEIRUT — Iraqi warplanes bombed Tehran and two other Iranian cities Sunday, killing at least 28 people in what Baghdad called a raid in retaliation for an attempt to assassinate the leader of Kuwait, and Iran said its aircraft hit back.
Iraqi warplanes bombed residential areas of the Iranian capital early Sunday and twice later in the day, Iran's official Islamic Republic News Agency reported. Iraq confirmed the raids.
Hours after the first Iraqi raid, Iranian warplanes flying at low altitude bombed installations in the southern Iraqi city of Al Amarah and returned safely to base, IRNA said. There was no Iraqi comment on this report.
The Iranian agency said Iraqi warplanes also bombed the key frontier cities of Ilam and Marivan and four smaller towns. The second and third air strikes on Tehran followed Iran's attack on Al Amarah.
In Baghdad, a military statement said the raids were successful and struck at "selected targets" deep inside Iranian territory to avenge what it said was Iran's involvement in a failed attempt to assassinate Kuwait's ruler Saturday.
But an Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman "categorically rejected Iraqi accusations . . . that Iran had a role in the assassination attempt on the Emir of Kuwait," state-run Tehran radio said.
The spokesman denounced the Iraqi justification for resuming its air raids into Iran "as a bid to redeem its policy of blackmail."
In the first raid on Tehran, the Iraqi warplanes dropped bombs on a four-story apartment building, destroying it and spreading panic across the city, Tehran residents reached by telephone said.
Relief units sifted through the rubble at least nine hours after the raid, which broke a month-old cease-fire on civilian targets between the two warring nations and theatened an escalation in the largely stalemated conflict.
Iran's Prime Minister Hussein Moussavi vowed a "crushing" retaliation against Baghdad with missiles and bombs and urged the residents of the Iraqi capital to seek safety in Iraq's five holy cities.
"There was a strong possibility that the raids took place with the instigation of the United States," Moussavi said, without elaborating.