Eight 'foreigners' arrested in Iran following deadly Shiraz shrine shooting

Provincial governor says attackers sought 'to take revenge for the execution of two terrorists' hanged over last year's shooting at the shrine

Iranian security forces patrol the area following an armed attack at the Shah Cheragh mausoleum in the city of Shiraz, Iran. AFP
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A gunman and eight foreign suspects have been arrested by Iranian security forces following the killing of two people at the Shah Cheragh mausoleum in Shiraz, authorities said on Monday.

One person was killed and eight others wounded, Iranian state media reported on Sunday. Official news agency IRNA quoted Fars province chief justice Kazem Mousavi as saying on Monday that “one of the wounded had succumbed to his wounds and died”.

Mr Mousavi earlier told the judiciary's Mizan Online news website that “eight people suspected of links with the terrorist attack … have been arrested”.

“All the people arrested are foreigners,” he said without elaborating.

The main suspect was arrested on Sunday night shortly after the attack, and Mizan identified him as Rahmatollah Nowruzof from Tajikistan.

Less than one year ago, a mass shooting at the Shiite shrine was claimed by ISIS.

Windows were shattered by bullets and blood stained the ground in a courtyard of the arched and colonnaded complex after the shooting.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but Fars provincial governor Mohammad Hadi Imanieh blamed ISIS extremists.

He told state TV that the assailant sought “to take revenge for the execution of two terrorists” hanged over last year's shooting at the shrine.

On Monday, Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi told state TV during a visit to the site that the “terrorist” was collaborating with a “network operating” outside Iran.

The EU and several countries including Iraq, Russia and France have condemned Sunday's shooting and expressed their condolences.

Baghdad rejects “terrorism in all its forms” and stands “with the international community in confronting terrorism”, said Iraqi Foreign Ministry spokesman Ahmed Al Sahhaf.

In a statement on Monday, the UAE's Ministry of Foreign Affairs affirmed the country's strong condemnation of the criminal acts, and its rejection of all forms of violence and terrorism aimed at undermining security and stability in contravention of human values and principles.

The ministry also expressed its sincere condolences and sympathy to Iran and its people, and to the families and relatives of the victims, as well as its wishes for a speedy recovery for all the injured.

On October 26, a mass shooting at the shrine in Shiraz left 13 people dead and 30 wounded. ISIS later claimed the attack.

Iran hanged two men in public on July 8 over the killings after their conviction for “corruption on earth, armed rebellion and acting against national security”, Mizan said at the time.

Three other defendants in the case were sentenced to prison for five, 15 and 25 years for being members of ISIS, according to Mr Moussavi.

In November, Tehran said 26 “takfiri terrorists” from Afghanistan, Azerbaijan and Tajikistan had been arrested in connection with the mass shooting.

In Shiite-dominated Iran, the term “takfiri” generally refers to extremists or proponents of radical Sunni Islam.

The Shah Cheragh mausoleum is home to the tomb of Ahmad, brother of Imam Reza – the eighth Shiite imam – and is considered the holiest site in southern Iran.

Last year's shooting occurred as nationwide protests gripped Iran following the death in police custody of Mahsa Amini, 22, arrested following an alleged breach of the strict dress code for women.

Updated: August 15, 2023, 5:26 AM