Iranian media are reporting that twin suicide bombings have killed more than 20 people outside a Shi’ite mosque in southeastern Iran, including worshippers and members of the country’s powerful Revolutionary Guard.
The attacks late Thursday wounded more than 100 others at the main mosque in Zahedan, the capital of Sistan-Baluchistan province, and came as Shi’ites celebrated the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad’s grandson, Imam Hussein. The day is also set apart each year to honor the Revolutionary Guards.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the bombings, but Sistan-Baluchistan province, an impoverished area bordering Pakistan, is the base for an insurgency led by the Sunni Muslim militant group Jundallah. Shi’ites in the province, home to a large Sunni Baluch minority, have been the target of numerous attacks.
Jundllah said it carried out a similar mosque attack two months ago that killed 25 people in Zahedan. Last month Iran executed the group’s leader, Abdolmalek Rigi, after convicting him of terrorism. Soon after, the group vowed to avenge his death.
Jundallah, or Soldiers of God, claimed responsibility for a bomb attack last October that killed 57 people, including several top Revolutionary Guard commanders. Jundallah members say they are fighting to secure rights for the Sunni Baluchis in Shi’ite-dominated Iran.
Deputy Interior Minister Ali Abdollahi told the semiofficial Fars news agency Thursday’s incident was a terrorist act.
Iran has accused the United States of funding Jundallah militants in an effort to destabilize the Iranian government. Iran says Jundallah is based in Pakistan. The U.S., Britain and Pakistan all have denied backing Jundallah.
Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.