Antelope Valley Press

Islamic State says it’s behind bombings


DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The Islamic State group claimed responsibi­lity Thursday for two suicide bombings targeting a commemorat­ion for an Iranian general slain in a 2020 US drone strike, the worst militant attack to strike Iran in decades as the wider Middle East remains on edge.

Experts who follow the group confirmed that the statement, circulated online among jihadists, came from the extremists, who likely hope to take advantage of the chaos gripping the region amid Israel’s war on Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Wednesday’s attack in Kerman killed at least 84 people and wounded an additional 284. It targeted a ceremony honoring Revolution­ary Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani, held as an icon by supporters of the country’s theocracy and viewed by the US military as a deadly foe who aided militants who killed American troops in Iraq.

On Thursday, chunks of asphalt appeared missing from the roadway where one bomb went off, suggesting the bomb had been packed with shrapnel to increase its deadly effects.

“The moment I turned around to tell my husband’s sister, ‘Let’s go to the square,’ the bomb exploded,” 38-yearold Mahdieh Sazmand told The Associated Press from her Kerman hospital bed. “If we were just 10 steps further we would have been right over the bomb.”

The Islamic State group claim identified the two attackers as Omar al-Mowahed and Seif-Allah al-Mujahed. The claim said the men carried out the attacks with explosive vests. It also used disparagin­g language when discussing Shiites, which the Islamic State group views as heretics.

The statement did not mention which regional arm of the extremists carried out the attack, which other claims in the past have had. But Aaron Y. Zelin, a senior fellow at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said that some previous claims have not specified the regional arm, and that the latest claim came directly from an account associated with the group.

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