A map of Iran locating a suicide attack in Pisheen. Iran accused Pakistan, Britain and the United States of aiding rebels behind a bomb attack on the elite Revolutionary Guards that killed dozens, as angry commanders vowed a “crushing” retaliation.
Iran Monday accused Pakistan, Britain and the United States of aiding rebels behind a bomb attack on the elite Revolutionary Guards that killed dozens, as angry commanders vowed a “crushing” retaliation.
Iran’s first deputy speaker Mohammad Hassan Abutorabi told parliament that “the horrible crime in Sistan-Baluchestan was carried out with the direct support of criminal America and its mercenaries.”
Seven Guards commanders were among at least 42 people killed when a suicide bomber Sunday set off his explosives belt at a gymnasium in the town of Pisheen, near the border with Pakistan, in southeastern Sistan-Baluchestan province.
The attack took place as the commanders were holding a meeting with local tribal chiefs, who were also among those killed.
General Mohammad Pakpour, the head of Guards’ ground forces and whose deputy was killed in the powerful blast, said Washington and London had trained and equipped those who carried out the attack against Iran’s prestigious military force.
“The terrorists were trained in the neighbouring country (Pakistan) by the Americans and British. The enemies of the Islamic Republic of Iran are unable to tolerate the unity in the country,” Pakpour said on state television.
Hours after the attack in the restive Sistan-Baluchestan province — a flashpoint of Sunni insurgency — President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad charged that the assault was plotted in Pakistan.
“We became aware that some of agents in Pakistan were cooperating with the main elements of today’s terrorist incident and we consider it to be our right to demand the rendition of these criminals,” Fars quoted Ahmadinejad as saying.
“We want the Pakistani government not to delay the arrest of the main elements of this terrorist act any longer.”
The head of the Guards, General Mohammad Ali Jafari, said on Monday that Tehran will demand that Pakistan hand over militant rebel leader Abdolmalek Rigi, who is accused of being the mastermind of the bombing.
Jafari said a Tehran delegation will head to Pakistan to deliver “proof to them so they know that the Islamic Republic is aware of its (Pakistan) support” to the group led by Rigi.
“The delegation will ask for him (Rigi) to be handed over,” Jafari was quoted as saying by ISNA news agency.
Rigi’s shadowy Jundallah (Soldiers of God) group has carried out a rebellion against the Shiite rule of Iran for several years and has repeatedly attacked the Guards, the elite military force set up after the 1979 Islamic revolution to protect the Islamic regime from internal and external threats.
The prosecutor of Zahedan, capital of Sistan-Baluchestan, Mohammad Marziah said Sunday’s suicide bombing had been “accepted” by Rigi. Related article: Iran Guards — prestige target for rebels.
Provincial chief coroner Abbas Amian said his office had received 42 bodies of people killed in the attack.
Soon after the bombing, Pakpour threatened retribution.
“The Guards will give a very harsh and crushing response to this group, so the group will never be able to launch another act like this in the country,” Fars news agency quoted him as saying.
Washington has denied any involvement.
“We condemn this act of terrorism and mourn the loss of innocent lives,” US State Department Spokesman Ian Kelly said in a statement in Washington on Sunday.
“Reports of alleged US involvement are completely false,” he added.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev meanwhile said on Monday his country is ready to help Iran fight “terrorism.”
“The fight against the threat of terrorism and the extremism — wherever it comes from — requires all countries to join their forces,” Medvedev said in a letter of condolence to his Iranian counterpart.
“We are ready to cooperate with the Islamic Republic of Iran to counter these threats,” he added.
Iran’s hardline as well as reformist media on Monday unanimously condemned the bombing.
“The supporters of unity were targeted by terrorists,” read the front-page headline of government-run Iran newspaper, alongside a picture of General Nur-Ali Shushtari, deputy commander of the Guards’ ground forces who was among those killed.
“The martyrdom of four Sepah (Guards) commanders” said the headline of reformist Etemad newspaper.
Iranian opposition leader Mehdi Karroubi also mourned the deaths of the Guards commanders.
“I humbly ask merciful God to increase the security in the country and especially in Sistan-Baluchestan after the spilling of the blood of our Sepahi sons,” the Aftab Yazd newspaper quoted the cleric as saying.