Iran hangs three suspects for mosque bombing, blames U.S. and Israel

Sunday, May 31, 2009

On Saturday morning three Jundallah men responsible for the bombing of a mosque in Zahedan, Iran, on Thursday, May 28, were hanged near the same mosque. The Iranian government said the United States, al Qaeda and Israel were involved in the bombing; the U.S. State Department rejected the allegation of American involvement.

Iran showing Zahedan

The bomb had exploded in the city's second largest Shiite mosque, Amir Al-Momenin, during evening prayers killing 25 and injuring at least 145 others.

"The bomb exploded at the time of evening prayer and killed a number of worshippers," said Ali Mohammad Azad, the governor general of the province of Sistan and Baluchestan. This Iranian province borders both Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The three men were already in custody prior to the explosion, in connection with previous bombing attacks in 2007. The provincial judiciary reported that the three confessed to "illegally bringing explosives into Iran and giving them to the main person behind the bombing."

"The bombing happened with the explosives these three convicted criminals brought to the country. They were convicted as 'mohareb' (fighter against God), 'corrupt on the earth' and acting against national security," said Ebrahim Hamidi, a local judiciary official.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: Presidential elections will be held June 12
Image: Daniella Zalcman.

Sunni rebels of the Jundullah (Soldiers of God) group said they sent a suicide bomber to attack a secret meeting of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards being held in the mosque. Mosques are held to be "gathering places for revolutionary Shiites".

"I announce that ... those who committed the bombing are neither Shi'ite nor Sunni. They are Americans and Israelis," said Sadegh Mahsouli, interior minister in President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's cabinet. Jalal Sayyah, a senior security official in Zahedan, said, "Hire of the terrorists by the U.S. was verified based on investigation." Iran says that the Jundallah are part of the al Qaeda and are also backed by the United States who equipped the terrorists. These claims have been denied by Washington.

The Islamic Republic of Iran Presidential elections will be held June 12. On Friday, the presidential campaign offices were also attacked by gunmen.

Thursday was a public Iranian holiday which honoured the death of Fatima Zahra, "the Mother of the Imams", the daughter of the Islamic prophet Muhammad.