West Balochistan: Hundreds Arrested in South-East Iran
The majority of those arrested are Baluchis, a predominantly Sunni Muslim ethnic minority, who the authorities have claimed have ties to the attackers. A group calling itself Jondollah has claimed responsibility for the attack
Local state-run media have received instructions from the government not to report the arrests on security grounds, the source, who asked to remain anonymous, said.
Twenty-two Iranian government and provincial officials were killed and at least seven, including the governor of the city of Zahedan, were critically wounded in the ambush as their convoy was returning from Zabol to Zahedan in the early hours of March 17. A further seven were taken hostage.
Hours after the attack, Iran’s police chief, Brigadier General Ismaeil Ahmadi-Moqaddam, announced there was evidence that the assailants had held meetings with British intelligence officers. On Thursday, he said that authorities had identified those responsible for the attack.
Iran’s Interior Minister also pointed the finger at Britain and the United States earlier this week for masterminding the attack.
The minister, radical Shiite cleric Mostafa Pour-Mohammadi, also claimed the people behind the attack were the same as those behind a spate of bombings in Iran’s south-western province of Khuzestan earlier this year and in 2005.
“What is clear about the recent events in Zabol and Khuzistan is that those behind the attackers were the same”, Pour-Mohammadi said.
“According to reports received, certain American and British security officials have had meetings with certain leaders of bandits and have encouraged them to carry out terrorist attacks [in Iran]”, he said.
Iran has witnessed escalating unrest in recent months in areas populated by Baluchis, who complain of discriminatory and repressive policies by the theocratic regime.