Iran blames U.S., U.K., Pakistan for attack on Revolutionary Guard

The chief of Iran's Revolutionary Guard on Oct. 19 accused the U.S., Britain and Pakistan of having links with the Sunni militants responsible for a suicide bombing that killed 15 senior Guard commanders and 37 others.

CA Online and wire services

2009-10-21

TEHRAN, Iran — The chief of Iran's Revolutionary Guard on Oct. 19 accused the U.S., Britain and Pakistan of having links with the Sunni militants responsible for a suicide bombing that killed 15 senior Revolutionary Guard commanders and 37 others. Jundallah, a Sunni rebel group, claimed responsibility for the attack.

Iran's president claimed those behind the bombing are hiding across the border in Pakistan, and in a phone call to his Pakistani counterpart, demanded their arrest.

A suicide bomber with explosives strapped around his waist struck as Revolutionary Guard commanders entered a sports complex to meet tribal leaders to discuss Sunni-Shiite cooperation in the Pishin district near the Pakistani border.

Revolutionary Guard chief Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari said the Jundallah, or ‘Soldiers of God’ organisation is at work to disrupt security in Iran, and vowed to deliver a "crushing" response. "New evidence has been obtained proving the link between [the] terrorist attack and the U.S., British and Pakistani intelligence services," state TV quoted Jafari as saying.

Several analysts who have studied Jundallah say the group receives material support from Baluchi nationalists in Pakistan. But they say there is little evidence of an operational relationship between Jundallah and militants, including Al-Qaeda and the Taliban operating across the border.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had harsh words for his Pakistani counterpart, Asif Ali Zardari.

"The presence of terrorist elements in Pakistan is not justifiable and the Pakistani government needs to help arrest and punish the criminals as soon as possible," state TV quoted Ahmadinejad as saying. "We've heard that some officers in Pakistan cooperate with the main elements behind such terrorist attacks, and we consider it our right to demand these criminals from them."

In a sign of how heated the situation has become, an Iranian lawmaker representing the capital of Iran's southeastern Sistan-Baluchistan province called on the Guard to carry out military operations inside Pakistan to root out militants. It is unclear whether the Guard will do so.

It is also uncertain how the attacker breached security around such a senior delegation of the Revolutionary Guard, the country's strongest military force, with direct links to the ruling clerics under Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The victims included the deputy commander of the Guard's ground forces, Gen. Noor Ali Shooshtari, and chief provincial Guard Commander Rajab Ali Mohammadzadeh. The others killed were Guard members or tribal leaders.

[AP]

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