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Nineteen Reported Dead In Bomb Blast At Iranian Mosque

Blood stains the ground inside the Amir al-Momenin mosque in Zahedan.
Blood stains the ground inside the Amir al-Momenin mosque in Zahedan.
ZAHEDAN, Iran -- A bomb explosion at a mosque has killed at least 19 and wounded more than 125 worshippers near Iran's volatile border with Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The blast went off in Zahedan, the capital of Sistan-Baluchestan Province in southeast Iran, where police have clashed with gangs involved in drug smuggling.

It has also seen attacks by an Islamic militant group called Jundallah, which claims to be fighting for the rights of Sunni Muslims in mainly Shi’ite Iran, and which is suspected of Al-Qaeda links.

Ali Mohammad Azad -- the governor of Sistan-Baluchestan – told state television that the blast struck during evening prayers at Amir al-Momenin mosque. He blamed terrorists but did not elaborate.

Azad said police had detained suspects who were thought to be planning additional attacks ahead of the June 12 presidential election.

No one has claimed responsibility for the blast.

A provincial official told the semi-official Fars news agency that the perpetrators of the attack had been hired by the United States.

"It has been confirmed that those behind the terrorist act in Zahedan were hired by America," Jalal Sayyah, a senior official at the governor's office in Sistan-Baluchestan province, told Fars. He said three people had been arrested.

The attack occurred less than a week after the presidents of Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan met in Tehran and reaffirmed their commitment to working together to fight terrorism and drug-trafficking in the region.

RFE/RL’s Radio Farda contributed to this report. With material from agency reports.