Iran thwarts ....

Pakistan Observer - - PAGE -

to carry out bomb at­tacks in the cap­i­tal Tehran and other parts of the coun­try, state me­dia re­ported.

“One of the big­gest tak­fir­iWah­habi ter­ror­ist plots was dis­cov­ered and foiled,” the official IRNA news agency quoted the min­istry as say­ing, us­ing terms ap­plied by Iran to Sunni ex­trem­ist groups.

“A se­ries of bomb at­tacks pre­pared in var­i­ous ar­eas deep in­side the coun­try and es­pe­cially in Tehran and some other prov­inces... were foiled, the ter­ror­ists were ar­rested and a num­ber of ready-made bombs were re­cov­ered,” it said.

No more de­tails were pro­vided. The min­istry said they were in­ter­ro­gat­ing the sus­pects and more in­for­ma­tion would come fol­low­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tions “both in­side and out­side the coun­try.”

The sec­re­tary of Iran’s Supreme Na­tional Se­cu­rity Coun­cil, Ali Shamkhani, told the ISNA news agency the plot in­cluded plans for “sui­cide at­tacks in Tehran”.

Iran, the pre­dom­i­nant Shi­ite power, has been help­ing both the gov­ern­ments of Iraq and Pres­i­dent Bashar alAs­sad’s regime in Syria to bat­tle the Sunni ex­trem­ist Is­lamic State group.

Ira­nian cities have not how­ever faced any se­ri­ous threat of ji­hadist at­tack, with the coun­try’s pow­er­ful se­cu­rity forces pri­ori­tis­ing the pro­tec­tion of the coun­try’s borders. In Novem­ber, Iran’s army con­ducted ex­er­cises close to its bor­der with Afghanistan de­signed to sim­u­late how it would re­spond if “ter­ror­ist groups” such as IS mounted an at­tack.

Be­fore the drills in the north­east­ern prov­ince of Kho­rasan, Gen­eral Ah­mad Reza Pour­das­tan, the army’s head of ground forces, an­nounced a 40 kilo­me­tre (25 mile) limit on the borders with Iraq and Afghanistan, which if breached would trig­ger ac­tion.

“Be­fore the en­emy reaches borders, its ac­tions will be neu­tralised,” he said.

An in­creased po­lice pres­ence in Tehran in Novem­ber and De­cem­ber — with armed se­cu­rity forces guard­ing sub­way sta­tions and other pub­lic ar­eas in Tehran — raised con­cerns that an at­tack was pos­si­ble.

But the cap­i­tal’s po­lice chief, Hos­sein Sa­je­dinia, said the pres­ence was only part of “counter-ter­ror­ism drills”.

Ira­nian forces clashed with militants last week on the coun­try’s north­west­ern and south­east­ern borders, leav­ing sev­eral dead.

The elite Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Guards killed 12 Kur­dish rebels in fight­ing near the Iraqi bor­der on Wed­nes­day that also left three mem­bers of the Guards dead. Po­lice said the rebels were mem­bers of the Party of Free Life of Kur­dis­tan (PJAK), an Ira­nian Kur­dish group with close links to Turkey’s out­lawed Kur­dis­tan Work­ers’ Party (PKK). The same day, state tele­vi­sion re­ported that a po­lice of­fi­cer and five mem­bers of Sunni mil­i­tant group Jaish-ul Adl had been killed in clashes in the south­east­ern Sis­tan-Baluchis­tan prov­ince.—AFP

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