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  1. Politics
19 October 2009

Iran blames the west for suicide attack on Revolutionary Guard

Iran vows revenge as 42 people -- including six senior commanders -- die in suicide blast

By Staff Blogger

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard today vowed to take revenge on Britain and the US, blaming them for a suicide bombing that killed 42 people, including six senior commanders.

The attack, at a Revolutionary Guard gathering in Sistan-Baluchistan, one of the country’s most unstable provinces, was the worst attack on a powerful unit in recent years.

Inflicting Iran’s worst military casualties in years, it killed the deputy commander of the guard’s ground forces, Noor Ali Shooshtari, and Rajab Ali Mohammadzadeh, the provincial commander for Sistan-Baluchistan.

Responsibility was quickly claimed by Jundullah (“soldiers of God”), a militant Sunni group that regularly attacks the Guard in its rebellion against the government and the Shia majority. Jundullah said the bombing was a response to “the constant crime of the regime in Baluchistan”.

The bomb was detonated at a meeting between Revolutionary Guard commanders and tribal elders at a sports hall in Pishin, the latest in a series of gatherings designed to foster unity in Iran’s poorest province.

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Those injured in the explosion had to be transported to hospitals 150 miles away because Pishin does not have proper medical facilities.

Jundullah is thought to operate across the lawless border with Pakistan. Last night Islamabad’s ambassador to Tehran was summoned to the Iranian foreign ministry, which protested against “the use of Pakistani territory by the terrorists”.

The Revolutionary Guard condemned the bombing as the work of terrorists supported by “the Great Satan America and its ally Britain” in an attempt to overthrow the Islamic regime.

An official military statement said: “Not in the distant future we will take revenge. There is no doubt that this savage and inhuman act falls within the satanic strategy of the foreigners and enemies of the regime, who are trying to break the unity among the Shias and Sunnis.”

State television quoted an “informed source” as saying that Britain was to blame “by organising, supplying equipment and employing professional terrorists”.

It has become a standard Iranian position that the US-British alliance is a source of unrest in Sistan-Baluchistan and other provinces.

Britain and the US denounced the attack and denied any involvement. “We reject in the strongest terms possible the assertions that this has anything to do with the UK,” a spokesman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said. Washington’s state department added: “Reports of alleged US involvement are completely false.”

The Iranian regime’s accusations against the west were likely to stoke tensions as talks in Vienna over Iran’s nuclear regime were due to resume.

The Revolutionary Guard took over direct responsibility for Sistan-Baluchistan’s security last April. Jundullah is fighting on behalf of the Sunni population in the province, who many say are discriminated against by the Shia rulers.

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