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Suicide bombers in Iran kill 39

Shi’ites targeted near a mosque

Associated Press / December 16, 2010

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TEHRAN — Two suicide bombers blew themselves up near a mosque in southeastern Iran yesterday, killing at least 39 people, including a newborn baby, at a Shi’ite mourning ceremony, state media reported.

The attack, which also wounded 90 people, took place outside the Imam Hussein Mosque in the port city of Chahbahar, near the border with Pakistan, the official IRNA news agency said. The bombers targeted a group of worshippers at a mourning ceremony a day before Ashoura, which commemorates the 7th century death of the Prophet Muhammad’s grandson Hussein, one of Shi’ite Islam’s most beloved saints.

An armed Sunni militant group called Jundallah, or Soldiers of God, claimed responsibility in a statement posted on its website. The group has carried out sporadic attacks in Iran’s southeast to fight alleged discrimination against the area’s Sunni minority in overwhelmingly Shi’ite Iran.

The group said yesterday’s attack was a second act of revenge for the execution of its leader, Abdulmalik Rigi, in June. “This operation is a warning to the Iranian regime that it must end its interference in the religious affairs of the Sunnis, stop executions and release the prisoners,’’ the statement said.

One of the attackers detonated a bomb outside the mosque and the other struck from among a crowd of worshippers, state TV reported. Security forces shot one of them, but the bomber was still able to detonate the explosives, the report added, quoting deputy Interior Minister Ali Abdollahi. A third attacker was arrested, state TV said.

Forensic official Fariborz Ayati put the number of dead at 39 and said they included three women and one newborn baby, IRNA reported.

Mahmoud Mozaffar, a senior Iranian Red Crescent Society official, said emergency services had been put on alert over the past few days because of anonymous threats, according to another news agency, ISNA.

Iranian officials claim that Jundallah, which has operated from bases in Pakistan, receives support from Western powers, including the United States. Washington denies any links, and in November the State Department added Jundallah to a US list of foreign terrorist groups.

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