39 killed in Iran mosque bombing

Jundullah militants say they ordered attack through two suicide bombers in revenge for the execution of their leader Abdolmalek Rigi in June.

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TEHRAN // At least 39 people were killed and about 90 injured yesterday when two suicide bombers attacked a Shiite procession in the southern Iranian port of Chabahar.

A three-month-old baby and three women were among the dead. The Sunni militant group Jundullah said it carried out the attack in revenge for the hanging of its leader Abdolmalek Rigi in June.

Some of the wounded are in critical situation and more deaths are possible, said Jalal Sayyah, the security and disciplinary deputy of Sistan-Baluchistan province. Some Sunnis died in the blast, he said.

The attack happened outside the Imam Hossein mosque at around 10.30am in the middle of a group of mourners commemorating the seventh-century martyrdom of Imam Hossein, the third Shiite Imam and the grandson of the Prophet Mohammed, and next to a Red Crescent ambulance.

Jundullah have carried out a number of similar attacks in recent years on mosques in Sistan-Baluchistan province, and the authorities had warned that militants could target the Shiite religious holiday.

Mahmoud Mozaffar, an Iranian Red Crescent senior official, said his organisation had been put on alert in recent days after several bomb threats, and mosques and temporary venues set up for the mourning ceremonies in Sistan-Baluchistan were being closely watched by security forces.

Those entering the mosque where the blast took place were being searched, forcing the militants to attempt to detonate their explosive vests outside the building where there were both Shiites and Sunnis.

One of the attackers blew himself up but the second bomber was shot dead by police as he tried to detonate his vest among the people helping those wounded by the first explosion.

A third militant carrying weapons and documents was detained by security forces while trying to flee to Pakistan, a security official said.

Jundullah named two of the bombers as Saiful Rahman Chabahari and Hessan Khashi.

"This operation was a revenge for the hanging of the head of the movement Abdolmalek and other members of Jundullah," the militant group said in a statement on its website.