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Fifteen killed as bomb rocks Iran Shiite mosque.

Summary: A bomb blast at a Shiite mosque in the southeastern Iranian city of Zahedan on Thursday killed 15 and wounded 50, the provincial governor general told state television.

The evening

A bomb blast at a Shiite mosque in the southeastern Iranian city of Zahedan on Thursday killed 15 and wounded 50, the provincial governor general told state television.

The evening explosion struck the Amir al-Momenin mosque in Zahedan, the restive capital of Sistan-Baluchestan province, which has a subtantial Sunni minority, the official IRNA agency reported.

"The bomb exploded at the time of evening prayer and killed a number of worshippers," Ali Mohammad Azad, the governor general of the province bordering Pakistan and Afghansitan told state television.

"So far 15 people who were killed have been identified and 50 others have been wounded. They have been transferred to city hospitals."

Fars news agency reported a higher toll, saying 20 people were killed and 55 wounded and said that shortly after the explosion, security forces discovered and defused a second bomb near the mosque. Zahedan is the capital of Sistan-Baluchestan province, which shares a border with Pakistan and is the scene of frequent clashes between Iranian police and drug dealers and militants.

There was no immediate claim that the explosion resulted from an attack, although the al-Gadhir mosque in Zahedan was attacked on Feb. 18.

Thursday was a public holiday in Iran to mourn the death of Fatima Zahra, the daughter of Prophet Muhammad.

The province has a large ethnic Baluch minority. In recent years, the province has been the scene of a deadly insurgency by Sunni Muslim rebels of the Jundullah (Soldiers of God), group 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.

In April of last year, the bombing of a packed mosque in the southern city of Shiraz during evening prayers left 14 people dead.

The explosion also comes just weeks ahead of Iran's June 12 presidential election, in which President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is seeking a second term and faces three challengers.

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Publication:Al Arabiya (Saudi Arabia)
Date:May 27, 2009
Words:358
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