Explosion hits northern Tehran on heels of cyberattack on Iran's railway grid

( israel hayom )

A loud blast heard in north Tehran early on Saturday was caused by an "unknown object" exploding in a park near state TV headquarters, Iranian state television reported.

Iranian police said no casualties or damage were reported, the official IRNA news agency reported.

Tehran Deputy Police Chief Gen. Hamid Hodavand said the case was under investigation and details would be provided later. He accused foreign media outlets of exaggerating the reported blast. "An unknown object exploded ...There was no damage and no one was hurt," he said.

Tehran Deputy Governor Hamid Reza Goudarzi, who is in charge of security issues in the Iranian capital, visited the scene.

"Just one explosion took place inside Mellat [People] Park," he told the semi-official Tasnim news agency.

Asked whether the incident was an attack, Goudarzi said: "We are investigating the dimensions and causes of the incident and we will provide information after we are sure."

At 12:52 a.m. (local time) Iranian media reported an explosion had taken place in northern Tehran. Dozens of social media users posted accounts of hearing or seeing the blast, as well. s from individuals on social media. Later, state TV showed Goudarzi in front of Mellat Park saying rescue teams, firefighters and police found no sign of an explosion, fire, or damage in the area.

Occasionally, Iranian media have reported on flash-bang grenades exploding without giving details. Those grenades are designed to emit a loud sound and a flash of light without causing serious damage.

The 84-acre park is located on the southern side of the 295-acre site of the state broadcasting company, which includes several buildings.

Terrorist attacks are rare in Iran, but a number of sensitive military and nuclear sites have been targeted in recent years. Iran has accused Israel of several attacks on facilities and scientists linked to its nuclear program. Israel has neither denied nor confirmed the allegation.

The blast came on the heels of a cyberattack that paralyzed Iran's railroad system on Friday afternoon.

State news agencies reported that the hackers posted fake messages about train delays or cancellations on display boards at stations across the country.

The hackers posted messages such as, "Long delays because of cyberattack" or "canceled" on the boards. They also urged passengers to call an information hotline, listing the phone number of the office of the country's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Fars news agency reported that the hack led to "unprecedented chaos" at rail stations.

No group claimed responsibility for the attack. Earlier in the day, Fars reported that trains across Iran had lost their electronic tracking system. It was not immediately clear if that was also part of the cyberattack.

Later media reports quoted the spokesman of the state railway company, Sadegh Sekri, as saying "the disruption" did not cause any problem for train services.

In 2019, an error in the railway company's computer servers caused multiple delays in train services.

It was not clear if the reported attack caused any damage or disruptions in Iran's computer and internet systems, and whether it was the latest chapter in the US and Iran's cyber operations targeting the other.

Iran disconnected much of its infrastructure from the internet after it was hit by the Stuxnet computer virus – widely believed to be a joint US-Israeli creation – in 2010. The incident disrupted thousands of Iranian centrifuges in the country's nuclear sites.

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