Bombs kill 28 in Iran

Guards among victims
Last Updated 16 July 2010, 16:52 IST

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.

US blamed
Iranian officials said Washington was behind the attacks.

Senior lawmaker Alaeddin Boroujerdi said the United States should be held accountable for the “terrorist acts in Zahedan” because of its support for Jundollah, the IRNA news agency said.

“Once more the wicked hand of America appeared out of the sleeves of ignorant and mercenary people,” cleric Kazem Sediqi said in a Friday prayer sermon broadcast live on state radio.

Iran is locked in a dispute with the United States and its allies over Tehran’s nuclear programme, which the West says is designed to produce nuclear weapons and Iranian officials say aims to generate power.

The head of the medical school at Sistan-Baluchestan province, Mansour Shakiba, said the attacks had killed at least 28 people and injured more than 169, the semi-official Mehr news agency reported.

Iran’s deputy Interior Minister in charge of security, Ali Abdollahi, said a number of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards had been killed and injured, the semi-official Fars news agency reported.

Predominantly Shi’ite 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.

Zahedan’s representative to parliament Hosseinali Shahriari resigned over the attacks.

(Published 16 July 2010, 13:01 IST)

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