TEHRAN, Iran (AP) - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad threatened Sunday to release internal documents on government affairs going back to the early 1980s in a direct counterattack against challengers who claim his policies have sent Iran into an economic tailspin and undermined the nation’s standing in the world.
Ahmadinejad gave only a blanket warning that he would open the books on "political, cultural, social and diplomatic" issues, but it appeared part of his effort to thwart the accusations economic mismanagement hurled at his hard-line administration by his three rivals in the June 12 election.
The threat boosts the level of bitterness and recriminations between Ahmadinejad and the challengers, who have hammered the president on Iran’s economic woes that include rising inflation and unemployment. They also alleged his fiery rhetoric and other stands - such as questioning the extent of the Holocaust - have left Iran more diplomatically isolated.
It also comes amid a spike in violence and insecurity that has raised fears that this election could bring levels of unrest that have been mostly absent from recent races.
Clashes erupted Sunday in the southeastern city of Zahedan, where a Sunni militant faction claimed responsibility for the bombing of a Shiite mosque last week that killed 25 people and injured 80. The state news agency said the fighting was sparked by rumors that a local Sunni cleric had been attacked.
A bomb was found on board an Iranian airliner soon after takeoff late Saturday, forcing it to return to the southwestern city of Ahvaz. Air guards chief Mohammad Hasan Kazemi called it a "sabotage attempt" apparently timed to show instability before the elections.
Thursday’s bombing in Zahedan was claimed by a Sunni militant group with reported ties to Pakistan, Jundallah or God’s Brigade. The group has been fighting a low-level campaign against Iran’s Shiite leadership for years.
Pakistan’s ambassador to Iran was summoned to Iranian Foreign Ministry over the incident, the state news agency reported. The area around Zahedan is also a main drug trafficking route.
Three men convicted of involvement in the bombing were hanged Saturday.
On Friday, gunfire on Ahmadinejad’s campaign office in Zahedan injured three people.
Tehran deputy police chief, Col. Mohsen Khancherli reported a bomb threat Sunday at the Tehran city theater, though no bomb was ever found.
In his campaign speech Sunday, the embattled president threatened to reveal the misdeeds of past government even as his own are under attack.
"I have already pardoned the insults against me, but for the sake of the national interest and the nation’s rights, I will present dossiers of the past three administrations before the nation and history," he told a gathering of teachers in Tehran, according to the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency.
"I will do that during television debates," he added. Candidates are scheduled to have one-to-one debates next week.
The past three governments would include the 1981-89 administration of former Prime Minister Mir Hossein Mousavi - who is the main pro-reform challenger to Ahmadinejad in the upcoming elections.
Earlier, Ahmadinejad posted a statement on his personal blog implying that his rivals were backed by "greedy despots and financial opportunists."
Iran’s sagging economy is considered Ahmadinejad’s most vulnerable flank after promising four years ago to boost Iran’s fiscal standing and share its oil revenue with impoverished regions.