DUBAI (Reuters) – Iran’s supreme leader vowed on Thursday to take revenge on those who threaten the country’s security after the massacre of Shiite pilgrims. Attacks claimed by Islamic State threaten to stir tensions amid widespread anti-government protests.
In a statement read on state television, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said the attackers “will certainly be punished” and called on Iranians to unite.
“We all have an obligation to deal with our enemies and their traitorous or ignorant agents,” Khamenei said a day after 15 people were killed in the attack.
Ayatollah Khamenei’s calls for unity appear to be directed mostly at government supporters and not at protesters whose nearly six-week-old movement is seen by authorities as a threat to national security. looked like
Iran’s cleric rulers have faced nationwide protests since the September 16 death of 22-year-old Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini in police custody.
Iranians draw thousands to the streets calling for Khamenei’s death and the end of the Islamic Republic during protests in one of the boldest challenges to cleric leaders since the 1979 revolution. rice field.
Iranian officials said they had arrested a gunman who carried out an attack at the Shah Chella temple in the city of Shiraz. State media accused “Takfiri his terrorists”. This is the label Tehran uses for hardline Sunni Islamic extremists such as the Islamic State.
Officials said the suspect was in critical condition after being shot by police.
“The terrorist at the shrine is in danger…and we have not yet been able to interrogate him,” said deputy governor Ismail Mohebipur, quoted by the semi-official Tasnim news agency. Said.
CCTV footage aired on state television on Thursday showed the attackers entering the shrine after hiding an assault rifle in a bag and firing at worshipers as they tried to flee and hide in the hallway.
The Islamic State, which once posed a security threat across the Middle East, has taken to the streets in Iran, including deadly twin attacks in 2017 targeting the tomb of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, founder of the parliament and the Islamic Republic. alleging previous violence in
Since the peak of its power, which controlled millions of people in the Middle East and terrorized the world with deadly bombing and shooting, the Islamic State has returned to the shadows.
Iran has often accused the West and its regional rivals Israel and Saudi Arabia of instigating the attacks. Saudi Arabia denies this, and Israel generally refuses to comment on its moves against the Islamic Republic.
Wednesday’s killing of a Shiite pilgrim came on the same day Iranian security forces clashed with increasingly loud protesters, marking the 40th anniversary of Amini’s death.
Iranian human rights groups said there were unconfirmed reports that some of Amini’s family members were under house arrest. Reuters tried to contact Amini’s father and brother.
Authorities, which have accused the US and other Western countries of fomenting “riots”, have yet to release a death toll, but state media say about 30 members of the security forces have died. .
Activist news agency HRANA said in a post that at least 252 protesters, including 36 minors, were killed in the riots.
As of Wednesday, protests in 122 municipalities and about 109 universities had killed 30 members of the security forces and arrested more than 13,800, they said.
Reported by Dubai Newsroom. Written by Michael Georgy.Edited by Clarence Fernandez and Nick McPhee
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