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Two dead in Iran attack on Shiites

October 17, 2015

Two people have died in a shooting attack on Shiite Muslims worshipping in southwestern Iran, according to state media. The incident came to light after a gunman killed five people at a Shiite mosque in Saudi Arabia.

Ashoura im Iran 2014
Image: Atta Kenare/AFP/Getty Images

Iran's semi-official FARS news agency said on Saturday that two people were killed and two wounded in a drive-by shooting attack at a Shiite Muslim mourning ceremony.

Unknown assailants in a car with no license plates were said to have approached a crowd of Shiites in the city of Dezful, in the south-western province of Khuzestan. They opened fire at around 2230 (1900 GMT) on Friday, the report said.

"Investigators are reviewing the matter and will announce the results as soon as possible," said police official Colonel Rahman Mousavi.

The incident comes during the Ashura holiday, when Shiite Muslims mark the killing of Imam Hussein in 680 AD. His death is central to the schism between the Shiite and Sunni directions of Islam.

Recent years have seen an increase in the number of attacks on Ashura ceremonies by Sunni extremist groups, which regard Shiites as heretics.

Hours earlier, Saudi officials gave details of an attack on a Shiite meeting hall in the Qatif area of Eastern Province, that killed five people and wounded six. Worshippers there had also been marking Ashura.

Gunmen fired at random

The gunman "started to shoot randomly" at a Shiite hussainiya, a building used for commemorations, a spokesman for Saudi Arabia's interior ministry said Friday. The attack took place in the city of Saihat, in the predominantly Shiite region of the Sunni kingdom.

"As result of his shooting, five citizens... were killed, including a woman. Nine others were wounded," the Saudi interior ministry said in a statement.

Saudi security forces said the gunman was killed and two people suspected of involvement in the attack, in Saihat city, were arrested.

The Sunni terror group "Islamic State" (IS) claimed responsibility in an online statement.

Security has been tight at Shiite facilities in Saudi Arabia since May, when mosque bombings there killed 25 people.

Earlier on Friday, Saudi Arabia's top cleric, Grand Mufti Abdulaziz al-Sheikh, named the group as an enemy of Islam. "The reality is that they are shedding Muslim blood and destroying Islam. There is no good in them," he said during weekly prayers at the Imam Turki bin Abdullah mosque in Riyadh.

rc/mm (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)