Iran Guards commanders killed in suicide bombing

A suicide bomber killed around 31 people, including six senior Iranian commanders, in an attack blamed on foreign-backed elements.

Iran Guards commanders killed in suicide bombing

Iranian state television said 31 people were killed in Sunday's attack on the elite Revolutionary Guards, raising the death toll from an earlier estimate of 29, including six senior commanders, in an attack in Iran's turbulent southeast blamed on foreign-backed elements, Iranian media reported.

State media said a local rebel group was suspected of staging the attack, the worst on the elite Revolutionary Guards in recent years, which injured another 40 people at a meeting of tribal chiefs.

But the Guards themselves accused "foreign elements" linked to the United States of involvement and state television also pointed the finger at Britain.

State television suggested that a Sunni rebel group called Jundollah (God's soldiers) was the likely suspect for the attack.

"Attacker detonated explosives strapped to his body during gathering of tribal heads," state Press TV said in a headline, adding that civilians and tribal leaders were also among the victims.

The Revolutionary Guards blamed "foreign elements" linked to the United States, which Tehran accuses the United States of backing Jundollah to create instability in the country, a charge that Washington denies.

State broadcaster IRIB said the attack occurred in the morning at the gates of a conference hall in the city of Sarbaz in Sistan-Baluchestan.

Two high-ranking commanders among the dead were the deputy head of the Guards' ground forces, General Nourali Shoushtari, and the Guards' commander in Sistan-Baluchestan province, General Mohammadzadeh, news agencies reported. Shoushtari was also a senior official of the Guard's elite Qods force.

Citing authorities and experts, a presenter of English-language Press TV said "the finger of accusation is directly pointed at the Jundollah group."

The Revolutionary Guards accused the United States of involvement. "Surely foreign elements, particularly those linked to the global arrogance, were involved in this attack," a Guards statement quoted by television said. Iran often uses the term "global arrogance" to refer to the United States.

There was no immediate comment on the attack by Washington.

The Revolutionary Guards is an elite force seen as fiercely loyal to the values of the 1979 Islamic revolution. It handles security in sensitive border areas.

State TV also singled out Britain. "Some informed sources said the British government was directly involved in the terrorist attack ... by organising, supplying equipment and employing professional terrorists," it said.

The Foreign Office did not directly comment on the accusation but said in a statement that Britain "condemns the terrorist attack in the province of Sistan and Baluchestan in Iran and the sad loss of life which it caused.

"Terrorism is abhorrent wherever it occurs" it said, expressing sympathy for the victims and their families.

Sistan-Baluchestan, bordering Pakistan and Afghanistan, is the frequent scene of clashes between security forces, rebels and drug traffickers.


Reuters

Last Mod: 18 Ekim 2009, 18:34
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