Gunmen attack major Shiite holy site in Iran, killing 15

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Gunmen attacked a major Shiite holy site in Iran on Wednesday, killing at the very least 15 folks and wounding dozens. The attack got here as protesters elsewhere in Iran marked a symbolic 40 days since a lady’s demise in custody ignited the most important anti-government motion in over a decade.

State TV blamed the attack on “takfiris,” a time period that refers to Sunni Muslim extremists who’ve focused the nation’s Shiite majority in the previous. The attack gave the impression to be unrelated to the demonstrations.

The official web site of the judiciary mentioned two gunmen have been arrested and a 3rd is on the run after the attack on the Shah Cheragh mosque, the second holiest site in Iran. The state-run IRNA information company reported the demise toll and state TV mentioned 40 folks have been wounded.

An Iranian information web site thought-about to be near the Supreme National Security Council reported that the attackers have been overseas nationals, with out elaborating.

The Islamic State group late Wednesday claimed accountability for the attack on its Amaq information company. It mentioned an armed IS militant stormed the shrine and opened fireplace on its guests. It claimed that some 20 folks have been killed and dozens extra have been wounded.

Such assaults are uncommon in Iran, however final April, an assailant stabbed two clerics to demise on the Imam Reza shrine, the nation’s most revered Shiite site, in the northeast metropolis of Mashhad.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi mentioned that whoever led and deliberate the attack will “receive a regretful and decisive response,” with out elaborating. IRNA quoted Raisi as saying, “This evil will definitely not go unanswered.”

Earlier on Wednesday, hundreds of protesters had poured into the streets of a northwestern metropolis to mark the watershed 40 days for the reason that demise in custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, whose tragedy sparked the protests.

Deaths are commemorated in Shiite Islam — as in many different traditions — once more 40 days later, sometimes with an outpouring of grief. In Amini’s Kurdish hometown of Saqez, the birthplace of the nationwide unrest now roiling Iran, crowds snaked by the native cemetery and thronged her grave.

“Death to the dictator!” protesters cried, in response to video footage that corresponds with recognized options of town and Aichi Cemetery. Women ripped off their headscarves, or hijabs, and waved them above their heads. Other movies confirmed a large procession making its method alongside a freeway and thru a dusty subject towards Amini’s grave. There have been studies of highway closures in the realm.

State-linked media reported 10,000 protesters in the procession to her grave.

Hengaw, a Kurdish human rights group, mentioned safety forces fired tear gasoline to disperse demonstrators. The semiofficial ISNA information company mentioned safety forces fired pellets at crowds of demonstrators on the outskirts of Saqez and pushed again demonstrators who tried to attack the governor’s workplace. It mentioned native web entry was lower off as a consequence of “security considerations.”

Earlier in the day, Kurdistan Gov. Esmail Zarei Koosha insisted that visitors was flowing as regular, calling the scenario “completely stable.”

State-run media introduced that colleges and universities in Iran’s northwestern area would shut, purportedly to curb “the spread of influenza.”

In downtown Tehran, the capital, major sections of the standard grand bazaar closed in solidarity with the protests. Crowds clapped and shouted “Freedom! Freedom! Freedom!” by the labyrinthine market.

“This year is a year of blood!” additionally they chanted. ”(Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei) can be toppled!”

Riot police on motorbikes have been out in power. A big group of males and women marched by the streets, setting trash cans ablaze and shouting Death to the dictator!” as vehicles honked their assist. Police unleashed anti-riot bullets at protesters in the streets and sprayed pellets upward at journalists filming from home windows and rooftops. Anti-government chants additionally echoed from the University of Tehran campus.

Amini, detained for allegedly violating the nation’s strict costume code for women, stays the potent image of protests which have posed one of the crucial critical challenges to the Islamic Republic.

With the slogan #WomanLifeFreedom, the demonstrations first centered on women’s rights and the state-mandated hijab, or scarf for women. But they rapidly developed into calls to oust the Shiite clerics which have dominated Iran for the reason that 1979 Islamic Revolution.

The protests have additionally galvanized college college students, labor unions, prisoners and ethnic minorities just like the Kurds alongside Iran’s border with Iraq.

Since the protests erupted, safety forces have fired reside ammunition and tear gasoline to disperse demonstrations, killing over 200 folks, in response to rights teams.

Untold numbers have been arrested, with estimates in the hundreds. Iranian judicial officers introduced this week they’d deliver over 600 folks to trial over their position in the protests, together with 315 in Tehran, 201 in the neighboring Alborz province and 105 in the southwestern province of Khuzestan.

Tehran prosecutor Ali Salehi informed the state-run IRNA information company that 4 protesters have been charged with “war against God,” which is punishable by demise in Iran.

Iranian officers have blamed the protests on overseas interference, with out providing proof.

Last week, Iran imposed sanctions on over a dozen European officers, corporations and establishments, together with foreign-based Farsi channels which have extensively coated the protests, accusing them of “supporting terrorism.” The sanctions contain an entry and visa ban for the staffers in addition to the confiscation of their belongings in Iran.

Deutsche Welle, the German public broadcaster whose Farsi group was blacklisted, condemned the transfer on Wednesday as “unacceptable.”

“I expect politicians in Germany and Europe to increase the pressure on the regime,” mentioned DW Director General Peter Limbourg.

In a separate improvement, many of the remaining portion of a 10-story tower that collapsed earlier this yr in the southwestern metropolis of Abadan, killing at the very least 41 folks, fell on Wednesday, state-run media reported. The state-run IRNA information company reported {that a} girl in a automotive parked close to the site was killed. Other components of the building had collapsed final month.

The lethal collapse of the Metropol Building on May 23 grew to become a lightning rod for protests in Abadan, some 660 kilometers (410 miles) southwest of the capital, Tehran. The catastrophe shined a highlight on shoddy building practices, authorities corruption and negligence in Iran.

Videos unfold on-line of the remaining tower crashing into the road as huge clouds of mud billowed into the sky.

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