Attack on Iranian shrine will not go unanswered – Foreign Minister

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DUBAI — Iran will not let an attack on a Shia Muslim shrine that killed 15 people and aimed to destabilize the country go unanswered, the foreign minister said on Thursday.

The attack, claimed by the militant group Islamic State, will add pressure on the government which has faced relentless protests by people from all walks of life since the death in police custody of Mahsa Amini, a Kurdish woman 22 years old, on September 16.

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Iranian officials said they arrested a gunman who carried out the attack on Shah Cheragh shrine in the city of Shiraz. State media blamed “takfiri terrorists” – a label Tehran uses for extremist Sunni Muslim militants such as the Islamic State.

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“We will certainly not allow Iran’s national security and interests to be manipulated by terrorists and foreign interference who claim to defend human rights,” Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said in a released statement. by the official media.

“This crime has made abundantly clear the sinister intentions of the promoters of terror and violence in Iran. There is reliable information that the enemies have drawn up a multi-layered plan to make Iran dangerous.

The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for previous violence in Iran, including deadly twin attacks in 2017 that targeted the parliament and the tomb of the Islamic Republic’s founder, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

Wednesday’s killing of Shiite pilgrims came the same day Iranian security forces clashed with increasingly vocal protesters marking 40 days since Amini’s death.

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The protests have become one of the boldest challenges to religious leaders since the 1979 revolution, drawing scores of Iranians to the streets, with some calling for the fall of the Islamic Republic and the death of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Human rights group Hengaw said two young men were shot dead by police during protests in Sanandaj, the capital of Kurdistan province, and the northwestern city of Mahabad during protests in through Iran on Wednesday. Reuters could not verify the report.

State media said a member of the Revolutionary Guards and a Bassij militiaman were to be buried on Thursday after they were shot dead by unidentified gunmen on Tuesday in Zahedan, capital of the restive Sistan-Balochistan province which was a hotbed of protests from Iran’s Baloch minority.

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Authorities, who have accused the United States and other Western countries of fomenting what they call “riots”, have not yet issued a toll, but state media said about 30 members of the security forces had been killed.

The militant HRANA news agency said in a message that at least 252 protesters had been killed in the unrest, including 36 minors.

He said 30 members of the security forces had been killed and more than 13,800 people had been arrested during protests in 122 towns and villages and some 109 universities on Wednesday.

Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi has blamed the protests that have swept Iran as paving the way for the attack on Shiraz, and President Ebrahim Raisi has said Iran will respond, according to state media.

CCTV footage shown on state television on Thursday showed the attacker entering the shrine after hiding an assault rifle in a bag and firing as worshipers tried to flee and hide in the hallways.

He was shown being arrested by police after being shot and injured. State media said he was not Iranian, but did not give his nationality.

Officials have called for three days of mourning in the southern province of Fars, following the attack in the provincial capital of Shiraz. (Reporting by Dubai Newsroom; Writing by Michael Georgy; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and Nick Macfie)

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