Four killed in Iran attack on Shiite shrine: state media

A shooting Sunday at a Shiite Muslim shrine in Iran’s south killed at least four people, state media said, less than a year after a similar attack on the same site.

“Four people have been killed so far following a terrorist attack” on the holy shrine of Shah Cheragh in Shiraz, the capital of Fars province, official news agency IRNA reported.

Iranian media outlets have provided different accounts of the attack and varying casualty tolls. Some reports said fewer than four people died.

IRNA and Tasnim news agencies reported the attack involved two assailants.

But the Fars commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, Yadollah Bouali, later told state TV only one gunman was behind it and arrested shortly after.

“A terrorist entered the gate of the shrine and opened fire with a battle rifle,” Bouali said. “Several pilgrims who were nearby were injured.”

Fars province governor Mohamed Hadi Imanieh told state TV the attack occurred around 7:00 pm (1530 GMT).

Footage carried by state TV showed ambulances rushing to the site of the attack.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack.

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.

On October 26, a mass shooting at the revered shrine left 13 people dead and 30 wounded, in an attack later claimed by Islamic State (IS) group extremists.

– Foreign suspects –

Iran hanged two men in public over the October attack, the judiciary’s Mizan Online news website reported last month, identifying them as Mohammad Ramez Rashidi and Naeem Hashem Qatali but not revealing their nationalities.

Authorities had previously said the attack involved people from other countries including neighbouring Afghanistan.

The pair were hanged at dawn on July 8 on a street near the shrine in Shiraz, the capital of Fars province, IRNA reported at the time.

Mizan said they had been convicted of “corruption on earth, armed rebellion and acting against national security” as well as “conspiracy against the security of the country”.

According to Mizan, Rashidi had confessed to having collaborated with IS to carry out the shooting.

Three other defendants in the case were sentenced to prison for five, 15 and 25 years for being members of IS, Fars chief justice Kazem Moussavi said.

The main assailant — who Iranian media had identified as Hamed Badakhshan, a man in his 30s — died of injuries sustained during his arrest, authorities said.

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

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

Last year’s attack occurred as Iran was gripped by nationwide protests following the death in custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, arrested for an alleged breach of strict dress rules for women.


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