05/29/2009, 00.00
IRAN

Suicide attack on Mosque in Zahedan, 19 dead, 125 injured

The day of prayer for the death of Fatima, daughter of Mohammad, was being celebrated in the mosque. Local authorities suspect the terrorist gesture aims to disrupt upcoming presidential elections. The city is a centre for trade in opiates. A feud between drug gangs or ethnic-religious tensions between Sunni and Shiites, is not ruled out as root cause.

Teheran (AsiaNews/Agencies) –A suicide attack on the Amir al-Momenin Mosque in Zahedan has killed 19 people and injured a further 125.  Provincial governor of Sistan-Balouchestan, in southern Iran on the border with Afghanistan and Pakistan, Ali-Mohammad Azad, has confirmed the attack.

The blast took place during evening prayer yesterday and was carried out by a terrorist group that had also planned a second explosion.  Throughout the country, Muslims were commemorating the death of Fatima, daughter of Mohammad.  

The governor confirms that some terrorists were arrested as they tried to leave the country.  The attack appears to have been motivated by a desire to disrupt upcoming presidential elections, which will be held on June 12th next.

Zahedan is a majority Sunni city within a majority Shiite nation and placed on the border of the opiate trade route.  Zahedan is the main crossing point for drug caravans that transport opiates to Iran and the rest of the world.  

Sometimes the drug gangs face opposition to their trade by the Revolutionary Guards (the pasdaran); on other occasions the pasdaran are competitors in the trade.

In February 2007, in Zahedan, a Sunni group killed 13 pasdaran. According to authorities the militants were members of a group known as Jundullah, or “soldiers of God”.

There is also violence stemming from Sunnis frustrations at being subjected to the power of the Shiite ayatollahs. Teheran accuses the US and Great Britain of colluding with the Sunnis.

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