Thousands attend funeral for victims of Tehran terror attacks

Thousands filled the streets of the capital Friday to mourn 17 victims of two attacks this week by Islamic State militants, the first time in recent memory Sunni jihadists managed to strike the heart of the Shiite Islamic Republic.

Six attackers died — including five men and a woman who blew herself up — and several were detained in connection with the attacks Wednesday at Iran’s parliament and the tomb of Iran’s revolutionary leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. More than 50 people were wounded in the morning attack on parliament, which was in session.

According to an Iranian government statement, the male attackers had returned to the country last summer after fighting for Islamic State in Mosul, Iraq, and Raqqah, Syria, and had “intended to carry out terrorist operations in religious cities.” The statement did not say whether the attackers were Iranian citizens.

Reza Seifollahi, deputy chief of the Supreme National Security Council, told the independent newspaper Shargh that the male attackers were Iranian.

Iran’s Intelligence Ministry said Friday that more than three dozen suspects had been arrested across the country in connection with the attacks.

“With the help of security forces and families of the suspects, 41 people linked to the attacks and to Daesh have been arrested in different provinces,” state television quoted the interior ministry as saying, using the Arabic acronym for Islamic State. “Lots of documents and weaponry have been seized as well.”

The attacks came at a particularly charged time in the region, days after Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries cut ties with Qatar, accusing it of backing Tehran and militant groups.

Before a funeral procession at parliament early Friday for guards killed there, Iran’s supreme leader said the attacks will add to Iranians’ hatred of the United States and Saudi Arabia. In the wake of the attacks, Iran’s powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guard also released a statement implying that the U.S. and Saudi Arabia were to blame.

Supreme leader Ali Khamenei said the attacks “will not damage the Iranian nation’s determination, and the obvious result is nothing except an increase in hate for the governments of the United States and their stooges in the region like Saudi.”

Saudi Arabia has denied responsibility for the attacks.

Ali Larijani, the speaker of Iran’s parliament, also spoke out ahead of the funerals.

“Daesh is an international danger,” he said.

Mourners gathered outside the parliament complex Friday to watch the funeral procession. Some cried, while others chanted, “Death to Saudi Arabia,” “Death to America” and “God is greatest.” Some carried pictures of Khamenei that said, “We are ready to sacrifice our blood for you.” Onlookers reached out to touch passing victims’ coffins, wrapped in Iranian flags.

Mohammad Rasouli, 66, sitting on the ground with a group across the street, said it was his duty to attend the procession and an afternoon funeral expected at 2 p.m. during weekly prayers.

“I came with my friends to show our solidarity with our supreme leader and nation. From here, we go to Friday prayers. If we do not go there, Daesh will be emboldened,” he said.

During the procession through parliament, the heads of Iran’s executive, legislative and judiciary branches all paid their respects, including President Hassan Rouhani, Larijani and the head of the judiciary, Sadeq Amoli Larijani. Unlike other leaders, Rouhani, a moderate, didn’t blame foreign powers, but rather said the attacks targeted peace and democracy.

Parliamentary staff who survived the attack also attended the procession under tight security. They stood alongside friends and family of the victims, who dressed in black.

Special correspondent Mostaghim reported from Tehran. Times staff reporter Hennessy-Fiske reported from Beirut.


UPDATES:

10:30 a.m.: This article was updated with details about the funeral.

This article was originally published at 8:20 a.m.

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