TEHRAN (AFP) – Iran said on Tuesday it had arrested 12 people over a deadly mosque bombing in April in the southern city of Shiraz who had confessed to being trained and financed by the United States and Britain.
“So far 12 people involved in this terrorist incident have been arrested, who are the main agents,” judiciary spokesman Ali Reza Jamshidi said, vowing that those convicted would be sentenced to the “harshest punishment.”
“The arrested people… clearly confessed to having links with foreigners, especially the UK and the United States,” he told a news conference.
“They had received training from foreigners to make bombs. It has become clear and transparent through bank accounts that foreigners gave financial support to the terrorists.
“These things have become clear and they admitted to these things,” he added.
Jamshidi said the detainees had been arrested with explosives and bomb-making material and that they intended to carry out bombings in other crowded places.
Jamshidi said on Monday that Iran may take legal action against the United States and Britain over the April 12 blast, which ripped through a packed mosque during a prayer sermon by a prominent local cleric, killing 13 people.
Last week, Iran blamed Western-backed monarchists for the bombing which also wounded more than 200 people.
Iran has blamed US and British agents based in neighbouring Iraq and Afghanistan for launching deadly attacks in recent years in border provinces with significant ethnic minority populations.
But the strike in Shiraz was the first in decades in Iran’s Persian heartland. The normally placid city is not in a border zone, nor is it home to any significant ethnic or religious minority population.
One of Iran’s most famous tourist destinations, Shiraz is popular because of its proximity to important ancient sites from the Achaemenid Empire that ruled much of central and southwest Asia from 550 to 331 BC.