28 die as bombers hit Shiite mosque
Published Date: July 17, 2010
TEHRAN: Two rebel suicide bombers killed at least 28 people, including elite
Revolutionary Guards, at a prominent Shiite Muslim mosque in southeast Iran,
weeks after a Sunni rebel leader was hanged in the region. The Sunni Muslim
rebel group Jundollah said it set off the bombs in the Islamic state on
Thursday, telling Al Arabiya television in an email it carried them out in
retaliation for Iran's execution in June of the group's leader, Abdolmalek Rigi.
Jundollah says it fights for the rights of Iran's Sunni Muslim minority. The
clerical leadership accuses its arch foe, the United States, of backing
Jundollah in order to create instability in Iran. Washington denies the charge.
The powerful bombs exploded near the city of Zahedan's Grand Mosque scattering
body parts around the holy site, and Jundollah said they were carried out by
relatives of Rigi and were aimed at a Revolutionary Guards gathering.
The group said the suicide attacks were carried out by Abdolbaset Rigi and
Mohammad Rigi ... and warned of more operations to come," Dubai-based Al
Arabiya said. Senior lawmaker Alaeddin Boroujerdi blamed Washington for the
attacks, saying the United States should be held accountable for the "terrorist
acts in Zahedan" because of its support for Jundollah, the official IRNA news
In the two explosions in Zahedan at least 28 people were killed and over 169
were injured," Mansour Shakiba, head of the Medical School at
Sistan-Baluchestan province, told the semi-official Mehr news agency. Iran's
deputy Interior Minister in charge of security, Ali Abdollahi, said "a number
of Iran's Revolutionary Guards were killed and injured," the semi-official Fars
news agency reported.
Iran announced three days of public mourning in the province, IRNA said. Iran
is locked in a dispute with the United States and its allies over Tehran's
nuclear program, which the West says is designed to produce nuclear weapons and
Iranian officials say aims to generate power. Predominantly Shiite Muslim Iran
arrested Rigi in February, four months after Jundollah claimed responsibility
for a bombing which killed dozens of people, including 15 members of the Guards.
It was the deadliest attack in Iran since the 1980s. Zahedan is the capital of
Sistan-Baluchestan province which shares a border with Pakistan. The province
faces serious security problems and there are frequent clashes between police
and drug dealers and bandits. In Washington, US Secretary of State Hillary
Clinton condemned the attacks "in the strongest possible terms." "This attack,
along with the recent attacks in Uganda, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq and
Algeria, underscores the global community's need to work together to combat
terrorist organizations that threaten the lives of innocent civilians all
around the world," Clinton said in a statement.
Iran says Jundollah has links to Sunni Islamist Al-Qaeda and in the past has
accused Pakistan, Britain and the United States of backing Jundollah to create
instability in southeast Iran. All three countries have denied this, and
Jundollah denies having any links with Al-Qaeda. "Confessions of Abdolmalek
Rigi prove that America, Israel and some European countries are directly
involved in the attacks," said Guards official Yadollah Javadi, Fars reported.
"The enemies of our country try to create conflicts between Shiites and Sunnis.
In May 2009, a suicide bomber killed 30 people and wounded more than 120 in an
attack on a mosque in Zahedan. Iran is grappling with ethnic and religious
tensions in the southeastern province of Sistan-Baluchestan, where authorities
have responded to attacks by Sunni rebels with a spate of hangings. Rights
groups and the West have condemned the hangings. Iran rejects allegations by
rights groups that it discriminates against ethnic and religious minorities. -
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