Islamic State claims Iran shrine attack, Iran vows response

  • Women and children among the victims – official media
  • The president says Iran will respond to an attack
  • Protesters are celebrating 40 days since Mahsa Amini died in custody

DUBAI, Oct 26 (Reuters) – The Islamic State group said it carried out an attack on a Muslim shrine in Iran on Wednesday that killed 15 people, deepening tensions in a country gripped by protests and warnings of protests. response from Tehran.

Iranian officials say they have captured the gunman who carried out the attack on the Shah Cheragh shrine in the city of Shiraz. The country’s media accuses them of being “takfiri terrorists” – a label Tehran uses for Sunni Islamist militants such as the Islamic State.

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

Wednesday’s killing of Shi’ite pilgrims came on the same day that Iranian security forces clashed with protesters marking the 40th anniversary of the death in police custody of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish woman.

Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi blamed the protests that swept Iran for opening the ground for the Shiraz attack, and President Ebrahim Raisi said Iran would respond, according to media reports.

“Experience shows that Iran’s enemies, after failing to create division within the nation, retaliate with violence and terror,” said Raisi, speaking before the Islamic State issued its claim of responsibility.

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“This crime will certainly not go unanswered, and the security and law enforcement forces will teach a lesson to those who planned and carried out this attack.”

The official Tasnim news agency said the attacker shot a worker at the temple’s entrance before his gun went off and he was chased by onlookers.

He managed to get his gun ready and shot his pursuers, before entering the yard and shooting the worshippers. Most of the dead were women and children, it said.

Shah Cheragh’s witness told state television: “I heard gunshots after we prayed. We went to the room next to the holy house, this air came down and fired a series of bullets. Then (the bullet) hit my arm and leg, it hit my wife’s back, but I thank God that My child was not beaten, he is seven years old.

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The attack in Shiraz came at the end of a day of clashes across the country between security forces and protesters, with video showing the most violent clashes in more than a month of violence following Amini’s death.

The protests have been one of the boldest challenges to the clerical leadership since the 1979 revolution. A wide range of Iranians took to the streets, some calling for the downfall of the Islamic Republic and the death of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

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Security forces opened fire on mourners in the Kurdish town of Amini in Saqez on Wednesday, according to witnesses.

“The protest police opened fire on the people who had gathered at the cemetery for Mahsa’s memorial service…tens have been arrested,” said the witness. Iranian authorities could not be reached for comment.

The official ISNA news agency said about 10,000 people were at the cemetery, adding that the internet was shut down after clashes between security forces and people there.

Videos on social media showed crowds packing the streets in several cities and markets in Tehran and other cities closed with people chanting “Death to Khamenei”.

1500tasvir, a Twitter account focused on Iranian protests with 280,000 followers, reported “brutal attacks” on protesters in several places in Tehran, including a gathering at the Tehran Medical Association.

A video clip on social media appeared to show members of the Basij militia shooting at protesters in Tehran.

Other videos showed protesters chasing riot police and throwing rocks. They also showed protesters in the Shi’ite holy city of Mashhad burning a riot police motorcycle. In Tehran, a protester beat a police officer, while in the city of Qazvin, riot police opened fire on protesters.

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Some protesters chanted: “We will fight, we will die, we will take Iran back” from its clerical rulers.

Reuters could not confirm the authenticity of this photo.

The IRNA news agency says a member of the elite Revolutionary Guards has been shot dead by “rebels” in the western Malay city.

A former pro-reform Iranian official said the spread of the protests appeared to have taken the authorities by surprise and contradicted the belief that support for the Islamist movement was widespread.

While some analysts say the prospects for a new political order are slim, activists say the wall of fear has fallen and the path to a new revolution is irreversible.

Students played an important role in the strike, as many universities went on strike. Hundreds of schoolgirls joined in, chanting, “Freedom, Freedom, Freedom,” despite a heavy crackdown by security forces.

State media and hard-line officials have called the protesters “hypocrites, kingpins, thugs and revolutionaries”.

Rights groups say 250 protesters have been killed, including teenage girls, and thousands arrested.

The authorities, who accuse the United States and other Western countries of fueling what they call “riots”, have not announced the death toll but state media said around 30 members of the army were killed.

Writing by Parisa Hafezi and Dominic Evans Editing by Michael Georgy, Nick Macfie and Alistair Bell

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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