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March 17, 2006 – Iran's national chief of police says gunmen have killed at least 21 people in southeastern Iran.
Iranian authorities say the gunmen are linked to ethnic tensions near Iran's southeastern border with neighboring Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The killings reportedly occurred about 90 kilometers south of the Iranian city of Zabol late on March 16 in Iran's Sistan-Baluchistan Province. The area borders Afghanistan's southwest province of Nimroz and Pakistan's southwest province of Balochistan.
General Ismail Ahmadi-Moghaddam says the gunmen posed as security forces. He says they stopped vehicles traveling along Iran's Zabol-Zahedan highway and then killed the drivers and passengers.
Moghaddam says he thinks the gunmen may have fled to Afghanistan. He also suggested that U.S. and British intelligence agents helped instigate the attack. But he gave no details to support that claim.
There have been ethnic and religious tensions in southeastern Iran between Shi'a and Sunni Muslims. There also have been frequent clashes in the area between drug-traffickers and Iranian security forces.
(AP, AFP, IRNA)