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Iran Says Seizes Man Behind Prosecutor Killing

TEHRAN (Reuters) -- Iran says its forces clashed with a Kurdish group behind the killing of a city prosecutor and seized the man responsible.

Haji Gholizadeh, the prosecutor of Khoy city in Iran's West Azerbaijan province which borders Turkey and Iraq, was shot dead outside his home on January 18.

"Last night security and provincial border forces clashed with the hostile anti-revolutionary PJAK forces and the person behind the assassination was arrested," the semiofficial Mehr news agency said, quoting province governor Vahid Jalalzadeh.

A number of PJAK fighters were killed and the detained man was being interrogated, it said.

Iranian security forces often clash with guerrillas from the Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK), an offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) which took up arms in 1984 for an ethnic homeland in southeast Turkey.

Local officials had said PJAK claimed responsibility for the killing, though this was not confirmed.

Like Iraq and Turkey, Iran has a large Kurdish minority, mainly living in the Islamic Republic's northwest and west.

Iran sees PJAK, which seeks autonomy for Kurdish areas in Iran and shelters in Iraq's northeastern border provinces, as a terrorist group. The United States, Iran's arch foe, in February last year also branded PJAK as a terrorist organisation.

The assassination took place six days after a remote-controlled bomb killed a university scientist in Tehran. Such incidents are relatively rare in Iran, which borders volatile Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq.

Iranian officials have blamed the United States and Israel for the bombing attack that killed the Tehran University professor, Masud Ali-Mohammadi. The United States dismissed the allegation of U.S. involvement as absurd.

An Iranian opposition website said he was a supporter of opposition leaser Mirh Hossein Musavi.