A massive explosion at a military arms depot near the Iranian capital, Tehran, has killed 17 Revolutionary Guards.

15 others were wounded in the blast, a spokesman for the elite fighting force told the semi-official Fars news agency.

A spokesman for the Revolutionary Guards said the blast happened as troops were moving munitions at a base in Bidganeh, near the town of Shahriar.

Residents in western suburbs of Tehran, 45km away, told Reuters they had felt the blast, assuming it to be a low-level earthquake.

Some media reports said the initial blast was followed by a second explosion.

Media were being kept away from the scene and no television pictures were immediately available.

On 12 October 2010, a similar blast at a Revolutionary Guards munitions store killed and wounded several servicemen in Khoramabad, western Iran.

Authorities said that explosion was an accident.