US, UK behind attack on Guards, claims Iran

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The Independent Online

Iran's armed forces yesterday accused the United States and Britain of involvement in a suicide attack which killed five elite Revolutionary Guard leaders, the semi-official Iranian Fars News Agency reported. The military headquarters blamed the bombing on "terrorists" backed by "the Great Satan America and its ally Britain".

A statement added: "Not in the distant future we [Iran] will take revenge," Fars said. In Washington, a State Department spokesman, Ian Kelly, said the United States condemned what he called an "act of terrorism". Reports of alleged US involvement were "completely false," he said.

As well as the five senior Guard commanders killed, at least 26 other people were wounded in the attack in an area of south-eastern Iran that has been at the centre of a simmering Sunni insurgency. The official IRNA news agency said the dead included the deputy commander of the Guard's ground force, General Noor Ali Shooshtari, as well as a chief provincial Guard commander for the area, Rajab Ali Mohammadzadeh.

The commanders were on their way to a meeting with local tribal leaders in the Pishin district near Iran's border with Pakistan when an attacker with explosives around his waist detonated his bomb at the entrance of a sports complex where the meeting was to be held.

A provincial prosecutor was quoted as saying that a militant group from Iran's Sunni Muslim minority called Jundallah, or Soldiers of God, a group which has which has been waging a low-level insurgency claimed responsibility. In the past few years, Iran has often been hit by bombings in the area, usually blamed on Jundallah.