A War On Terrorism or a War Of Terrorism?
Reports as usual vary wildly and small wonder that some news sources are trying to pin this on yet another subsidiary of "Al Qaeda". But this wasn't a suicide attack.
The terrorists drove a car, packed with explosives, up to a bus carrying soldiers of Iran's Revolutionary Guards. Some reports say that they forced the bus to stop by firing on it with automatic weapons, others that they blocked the road with the car while pretending to have broken down. Either way, they quickly escaped on motorbikes before detonating the car bomb by remote control.
Reports claim so far 11 soldiers killed and up to 31 wounded. A terrorist attack on this scale against Iran's elite forces, in broad daylight is unprecedented.
The official Iranian news agency announced that five arrests have been made including the ring leader and a major investigation has been launched to determine who else is involved in the attack.
It also claims to have evidence that the terrorist group was backed by the United States.
Explosion kills 11 members of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards
Iranian News Agency
A car bomb killed 11 members of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards on Wednesday in the deadliest attack in years near the Pakistani border, and Iran accused the United States of backing militants to destabilize the country.
A Sunni Muslim militant group called Jundallah, or God's Brigade, which has been blamed for past attacks on Iranian troops, claimed responsibility for the bombing. The blast represented a sharp flare-up of violence in the remote southeast corner of Iran, near Pakistan and Afghanistan, that has long been plagued by lawlessness.
The area is a key crossing point for opium from Afghanistan and often sees clashes between police and drug gangs. At the same time, Jundallah has waged a low-level insurgency in the area, led by Abdulmalak Rigi, a member of Iran's ethnic Baluchi minority, a community that is Sunni Muslim and is present in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Rigi has said his group is fighting for the rights of impoverished Sunnis under Iran's Shiite government.
An al-Qaida-linked group of the same name has carried out attacks in Pakistan, but Pakistani officials say it is not connected to the Iranian militants. Iranian officials blamed "insurgents" and "terrorists" for Wednesday's bombing -- and accused the United States of backing them to sow instability in Iran.
The London Times
February 15, 2007
The official Iranian news agency quoted an unnamed official as saying evidence suggested that the bus attackers had support from the United States.
Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejeie, Iran's Intelligence Minister, claimed last week that Tehran had identified 100 spies working for the United States and Israel in the border areas.
The attack follows sporadic violence in Iran's oil-rich south-western province of Khuzestan, which has a minority Arab population, and borders southern Iraq, where British troops are based.
Explosions killed more than 20 people in Khuzestan's capital, Ahvaz, in 2005 and early 2006. London has denied as "ludicrous" Iranian accusations that Britain has fomented instability in Khuzestan.
Correspondents say an attack of this size and nature is unprecedented in Iran - hitting an elite force in daylight in an open street. Reports say suspects behind the bombing have been arrested.
The city of Zahedan lies in the province of Sistan-Baluchestan, which borders both Afghanistan and Pakistan. It has been hit by a string of attacks and kidnappings blamed on the hardline Sunni group called Jundallah.
Iranian officials have accused Britain and the United States of supporting ethnic minority rebels operating in the Islamic republic's sensitive border areas.
Five suspects have been arrested, an official of the Sistan-Baluchestan Governor General’s Office announced.
“The detained individuals entered the province from another country and according to their confessions, they committed the terrorist act based on a plan to incite division between Shias and Sunnis and provoke ethnic strife,” Soltan-Ali Mir told the Mehr News Agency.
The ringleader of the bombing is among the five, he added. “Some of the arrested terrorists entered Iran two days ago,” Mir stated.
Sunni ulema in Sistan-Baluchestan Province have condemned the bombing, he added. A major operation is underway to identify and arrest all the others involved in the act.