TEHRAN, (Reuters) – The head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards said on Monday that a Sunni rebel group blamed for an attack on the force had ties with U.S., British and Pakistani intelligence, a news agency said.
“Behind this scene are the American and British intelligence apparatus, and there will have to be retaliatory measures to punish them,” Guards commander-in-chief Mohammad Ali Jafari said, according to the ISNA news agency.
Iranian media say the Sunni insurgent group Jundollah (God’s soldiers) has claimed responsibility for Sunday’s suicide bombing in Sistan-Baluchestan province, which killed 42 people including several senior Guards commanders.
Jafari said Iranian security officials had presented documents on Monday indicating “direct ties” from Jundollah to U.S., British and, “unfortunately”, Pakistani intelligence organisations.
Jundollah, which has been blamed for many attacks in the southeasterly province in recent years, says it is fighting for the rights of the Sunni Muslim minority in predominantly Shi’ite Iran. Its leader is Abdolmalek Rigi.
“And this person himself and his plans are undoubtedly under the umbrella and the protection of these (U.S., British and Pakistani) organisations,” Jafari said.
A senior judiciary official in Sistan-Baluchestan, Ebrahim Hamidi, said Jundollah members were at war with God and faced execution, the semi-official Fars News Agency reported. “The verdict and punishment of being at war with God is execution,” he said. Iran hanged 13 alleged Jundollah members last July.