Iran says gunman behind shrine attack was from Tajikistan

DUBAI (AP): Iran’s official news agency said Monday that the gunman who killed 13 people at a major Shiite shrine last month was a citizen of Tajikistan.

The militant Daesh group has claimed responsibility for the Oct. 26 attack on Shah Cheragh in the city of Shiraz, one of Iran’s top five Shiite shrines. But the government has tried to blame the attack on the largely peaceful anti-government protests, without offering evidence.

Iran initially said 15 were killed in Shiraz but later revised the number to 13 over double-counting.

The report on IRNA identified the gunman as Sobhan Komrouni. He died in a hospital in southern Iran, days after the Oct. 26 attack, from injuries sustained during his arrest.

Citing Iran’s Intelligence Ministry, Monday’s report said the gunman’s accomplice was an Afghan citizen, Mohammad Ramez Rashidi. A third suspect, from neighboring Azerbaijan, was allegedly the “main coordinator” of the attack from Iran’s capital, Tehran, the report said.

IRNA said authorities have arrested 26 suspects — purportedly with links to extremist groups — over the shrine attack, all reportedly nationals of Azerbaijan, Tajikistan and Afghanistan.

It said, without elaborating, that some of the suspects were planning similar attack in the city of Zahedan in restive southeastern province of Sistan and Baluchestan, the scene of deadly unrest last week.

Iran is embroiled in weeks of anti-government protests that erupted after a 22-year-old Kurdish woman, detained after allegedly violating the country’s strict dress code for women, died in custody in September.