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Suicide bombers attack worshipers in Iran

Special to The Times

Dozens of Iranians were feared dead or injured after a coordinated suicide bombing Wednesday morning in the southeastern port of Chabahar targeted a procession of worshipers observing an important Shiite Muslim holiday, state media reported.

Conflicting reports of one or more explosions estimated the number of deaths at between 21 and 50.

Initial reports described an attack outside the Hossein Mosque in Chabahar and another one or two failed bombings. The Jundallah organization, a militant Sunni group that claims to represent Iran’s ethnic Baluch minority, took responsibility for the attack shortly after it happened, according to the Dubai-based Al Arabiya news channel.

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Two suspects were killed by their explosives, one was shot and killed by police and a fourth was arrested after his explosive belt failed to detonate outside the office of the provincial governor, the semi-offficial Fars News Agency reported.

Immediately after the attack, Ali Abdollahi, the deputy interior minister for security affairs, lashed out at the United States, telling the official Islamic Republic News Agency that the “equipment” used in the attack indicated that Jundallah had received support from U.S. and regional intelligence agencies.

“One of these blasts has been prevented since we knew about that beforehand, and it caused relatively fewer casualties than the second one,” he was quoted as saying, adding that the attacks took place shortly after 10 am.

“One of the terrorists was identified and shot before he could do anything, but he detonated the bomb, which did not cause any casualties,” Abdollahi said.

Chabahar is a mostly Sunni city near the Pakistani border, and Iran’s only port on the Arabian Sea, making it vital to Iranian trade with Central Asia. The attacks coincided with Ashura, the annual Shiite religious holiday commemorating the 7th century slaying of Imam Hossein, grandson of the prophet Muhammad.

Mostaghim in Tehran and Lutz in Beirut are special correspondents. Times staff writer Borzou Daragahi in Kabul, Afghanistan, contributed to this report.


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