The Sunni rebel group Jundollah has claimed responsibility
for the deadly suicide attack in Iran's Sistan -Baluchistan province that left at least 27 dead and over 250 hundred injured. The group says the attack was revenge for the execution in June of the group's leader, Abdolmalek Rigi.
Iranian authorities have reportedly arrested some 40 people in connection with the bombings.
One of the first bloggers in Sistan- Baluchistan, Amin Sabeti, who is currently based in London tells RFE/RL the attacks have caused shock and grief among the local population. He says the government response is likely to backfire:
RFE/RL: What do your contacts tell you about people's reaction in Sistan -Baluchistan to the recent suicide attacks in Zahedan?
Amin Sabeti: "Based on the news I have been receiving there is an atmosphere of deep shock and also grief over the bombings. There was lots of joy following the arrest of [Judollah's leader Abdolmalek Riggi] and such an act of revenge wasn't expected. It was expected that there would be some kind of revenge but not in this dimension and from what I've heard the number of dead in the center of Zahedan is unbelievable."
RFE/RL: How much support does Jundollah have among the local population?
Amin Sabeti: "It's difficult to answer this question because these terrorist groups such as Jundollah have some underground supporters, you don't see them openly in the society. But I guess that it doesn't have many supporters. If you look at the virtual world you see that they have supporters who try to justify the killing of civilians. In general we can't ignore the fact that groups such as Jundollah and Al-Qaeda have some supporters. Jundollah has some supporters in Sistan-Baluchistan and in Iran and also some outside the country."
RFE/RL: What are the main factors behind the violence in that region?
Amin Sabeti: "There are several factors but I think the main ones are the government's pressure on the Baluch minority and the widespread poverty. The poverty leads some to commit such acts to gain some [money]. Another factor is discrimination against the Baluch tribe. For example after any terrorist attack a number of the members of the Baluch minority are being arrested and jailed. One of the reason for the arrests is to calm down public opinion and it leads to a game of violence that is used by Jundollah that takes hostages in reaction to the arrests and executions then kills them. Its a bloody game and the losers in this game are the people of Sistan-Baluchistan."
RFE/RL: Some 40 people have been arrested following Zahedan's suicide attacks, how are the recent arrests going to affect the situation in that region?
Amin Sabeti: "It will definitely decrease the violence in the short run. It leads to a security situation for a few months but it doesn't last. But the arrests could lead Jundollah to recruit new members among those feel they are the victims of the arrests by Iranian authorities. So briefly I can say that the arrests of more than 40 people in a day or so will in the long run lead to more violence and killings."
-- Golnaz Esfandiari