Shiite cleric shot, wounded in central Iran

TEHRAN (AFP): A Shiite cleric in central Iran was injured on Saturday morning after an assailant on a motorcycle shot at him, Iranian state media said.

Mohsen Akhavan, who holds the clerical rank of hojatoleslam, was targeted in the city of Isfahan, according to the website of state broadcaster IRIB.

Akhavan, who was the imam of a mosque in the city, was returning home after leading the morning prayer when the attack occurred, IRIB reported.

The report added that the cleric, who had earlier been working at the Isfahan Islamic seminary, was “not seriously injured” and was being treated in hospital.

In early April, a Sunni extremist of Uzbek origin stabbed two Shiite clerics to death and injured a third in the courtyard of the main shrine of the northeastern holy city of Mashhad.

Abdolatif Moradi, 21, was hanged on June 20 in the same city after being convicted over the attack, according to the judicial authority.

Moradi “was accused of moharebeh (’war against God’, in Persian) using a weapon to terrorize the population in the shrine and even outside it,” judicial authorities said.

The attack in Mashhad came days after two Sunni clerics were shot dead outside a seminary in the northern Iranian town of Gonbad-e Kavus.

The three suspects in that case, also Sunnis, were arrested in late April but were said to have “no connection with terrorist groups,” state media reported at the time.