At least 13 dead in the attack in Shiraz in southern Iran

At least 13 dead in Shiraz attack in southern Iran

UPDATE DAY

At least 15 people were killed in the southern city of Shiraz on Wednesday in an attack in the main Shia Muslim shrine in southern Iran and claimed by the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) . 

President Ebrahim Raisi accused in a statement “the enemies of Iran” who seek “to divide the united ranks of the nation (…) by violence and terror, and promised a tough response from the security forces.

The attack, among the deadliest in Iran in recent years, was carried out “during evening prayers” at the Shahcheragh mausoleum, local governor Mohammad-Hadi Imanieh told state television. /p>

According to him, the aggressor “shot the faithful blindly”, in the most important shrine in southern Iran, which houses the tomb of Ahmad, brother of one of the most important figures. most revered of Shiism, Imam Réza who died in 818.

“Only one terrorist was involved in this attack,” the head of the local judicial authority, Kazem Moussavi, told television, which reported “at least 15 dead and 19 injured.”

The author, “affiliated with Takfiri groups, was arrested,” the television added, referring to Sunni jihadist or radical Islamist groups.

The television specified that “the security forces injured the 'assailant' who is 'currently undergoing surgery in hospital'.

According to the IS propaganda outlet, a member of the Sunni jihadist group opened fire on worshipers at the Shahcheragh shrine, “killing at least 20 Shiites and injuring dozens more”.

< p>A witness told Iran's official Irna agency that he “heard screams of women at the time of the call for evening prayers”, adding that “the attacker entered and shot at the shrine”.< /p>

Images released by state media show a bloodbath and several dead bodies covered in sheets.

The Irna agency broadcast images of a little boy on a stretcher in particular, but also the blurred photo of a woman lying on the ground holding a small child near a man leaning against a wall, with apparent blood marks .

The attack came as Iran has for nearly six weeks been hit by a wave of protests sparked by the September 16 death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian Kurd who died three days after her arrest by the morality police in Tehran, a protest on a scale the country had not seen for three years.

Several attacks took place

This is the second deadly attack perpetrated in 2022 against a Shiite place of worship in Iran, a country of some 83 million inhabitants, where Shiism has been the state religion since the 16th century.

In early April, a 21-year-old national of “Uzbek” origin stabbed two Shia clerics to death and injured a third in the courtyard of the Imam Reza shrine in Mashhad, Iran's second city.

Accused of “moharebeh” (being an “enemy of God” in Persian), the assailant was hanged in June in the same city, according to the Judicial Authority.

The attack in Shiraz has been the deadliest in Iran since February 2019, when 27 members of the Revolutionary Guards, the ideological army of the Islamic Republic, died in an attack claimed by a Sunni extremist group in the south-east of the country.

In 2018, an attack claimed the lives of 24 people in Ahvaz, the capital of Khuzestan (southwest). It was claimed by ISIS, but Tehran blamed the “Popular and Democratic Front of Arabs of Ahvaz” (PPDAA), a separatist group which denied any involvement.

ISIS claimed responsibility for its first attack in Iran on June 7, 2017. Gunmen and suicide bombers then attacked Tehran's Parliament and the mausoleum of the founder of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Khomeini, killing 17 people.