Fri, Oct 14, 2016 - Page 7 News List

Iran foils IS plot targeting Ashura events


Iranians light candles to commemorate the death of Imam Hussein, the grandson of the Prophet Mohammed, during an Ashura ceremony in Tehran, Iran, on Wednesday.

Photo: AFP

Iran broke up an Islamic State (IS) group plan to bomb commemorations marking the Shiite religious mourning period of Ashura, state media reported, the latest alleged militant plot to target the country.

The official Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) news agency quoted Iranian Minister of Intelligence Mahmoud Alavi as saying several foreign nationals were detained with about 100kg of explosives. State television also reported the arrests.

Alavi late on Wednesday said the suspects planned to attack Ashura events in Fars Province.

Ashura marks the death of Imam Hussein, the grandson of the Prophet Mohammed, at the Battle of Karbala in present-day Iraq in the 7th century.

Alavi referred to the suspects as “takfiri terrorists,” a term used by Iranian officials to describe militant Sunni Muslim fundamentalists like the IS.

“Intelligence Ministry agents, with the cooperation of other security forces, succeeded to defuse one of the anti-security plots of the takfiri terrorist groups and prevent an inhuman crime in the ceremonies,” he said.

There was no other information immediately released, though the arrest of foreigners on such charges is rare. Iran has helped Shiite militias fighting against the IS in Iraq, while also supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Alavi blamed Iran’s foreign “enemies” for helping the bombing suspects, without elaborating.

Iran in recent months has announced an increasing number of thwarted militant attacks.

In June, Iran said it broke up one of the “biggest terrorist plots” ever on its soil by Sunni extremists planning bombings in Tehran and elsewhere during the holy Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

Iran increasingly has warned of possible militant assaults targeting the country, which has not seen large-scale attacks since the 1980s.

Recently though, Iran has faced increased attacks from Kurdish separatists. Arabs in its southern, oil-rich region and Baluch militants also launch occasional attacks.

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