3 hanged over Iran mosque blast
TEHRAN: Iran on Saturday hanged three men in public accused of involvement in the bombing of a Shiite mosque that killed 25 people, an official said, branding them "terrorists" and "enemies of God."
The early morning executions took place near the mosque in southeastern Iran devastated by the bombing, official IRNA news agency quoted Hojatoeslam Ebrahim Hamidi, justice chief of Sistan-Baluchestan province, as saying.
At least 125 people were also wounded in the powerful blast, which rocked the Amir al-Momenin mosque in the Sistan-Baluchestan provincial capital Zahedan during evening prayers on Thursday.
"The terrorists Haji Noti Zehi, Gholam Rasoul Shahi Zehi and Zabihollah Naroui were hanged at 6:00 am (0130 GMT) near the Amir al-Momenin mosque in public," Hamidi told IRNA.
"They confessed to illegally bringing explosives into Iran and giving them to the main person behind the bombing," he added.
"They were convicted of being "mohareb" (enemies of God) and 'corrupt on the earth' and acting against national security," Hamidi said.
"They were arrested before the Thursday's bombing but they confessed that they had provided the explosives for the bombing. They were tried and they had court-appointed legal representation."
He said the trio had also been charged with "direct involvement in the bombing of a Sepah (Revolutionary Guards) bus in 2007, the Al-Ghadir mosque and some other bombings."
Thirteen Revolutionary Guards were killed in an attack on their bus in Zahedan in February 2007.
In February this year, a bomb apparently carried by a motorcyclist exploded in Zahedan's Al-Ghadir mosque complex but caused no casualties.
"This case is not over and the search will continue by the provincial police, intelligence and security and they will hunt the rest of them," Hamidi said.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Saturday issued a statement carried by Iranian media advising "alertness by Shiite and Sunni brothers to neutralise the plots," and asking "the authorities to quickly find, punish and uproot the evil hands of foreigners who were behind the bombing."
He did not accuse any country.
On Friday, Jalal Sayah, deputy governor of Sistan-Baluchestan, which borders Pakistan and Afghanistan, said that "three people involved with the terrorist incident were arrested."
"According to the information obtained they were hired by America and the agents of the arrogance," Sayah added.
Officials usually use the term "global arrogance" to refer to Iran's arch-foe the United States.
Interior Minister Sadeq Mahsouli also pointed the finger towards the United States and Israel.
US State Department spokesman Ian Kelly denied emphatically that Washington was behind the attack, which it condemned "in the strongest possible terms."
"The US strongly condemns all forms of terrorism. We do not sponsor any form of terrorism in Iran and we continue to work with the international community to try to prevent any attacks against innocent civilians anywhere," Kelly told reporters in Washington on Friday.
Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei had on Friday urged restraint.
Sunni clerics "should once again express their firm stand in loathing the corrupt ones who commit such crimes in the name of defending Sunni adherents. Shiite clerics should prevent thoughtless and angry reactions," he said.
Iranian officials have said the blast was an attempt to disrupt campaigning for the June 12 presidential elections.
In recent years, Sistan-Baluchestan has been the scene of a deadly insurgency by Sunni rebels of the Jundullah (Soldiers of God) group, headed by Abdolmalek Rigi, which is strongly opposed to the government of predominantly Shiite Iran.
The province also lies on a major narcotics-smuggling route from Afghanistan and Pakistan.