TEHRAN, Iran – Iranian security forces have arrested nine suspects in connection with a double bombing near a mosque in the country's southeast this week that killed 39 people, state television said Thursday.
The armed Sunni militant group Jundallah, or Soldiers of God, has claimed responsibility for Wednesday's bombing outside the Imam Hussein Mosque in the port city of Chahbahar near the Pakistan border. The group, which has carried out attacks on military and civilians in southeastern Iran in the past, said the bombing was an act of revenge for the June execution of its leader, Abdulmalik Rigi.
Iran's interior minister, Mostafa Mohammad Najjar, told state television Thursday that authorities arrested one suspect at a border crossing. He did not specify which border.
State TV also quoted an unnamed Intelligence Ministry official as saying eight other suspects were arrested in Chahbahar and several other nearby towns.
Deputy interior minister Ali Abollahi told the official IRNA news agency the suspects had links with local authorities in Pakistan, and said they were using Pakistani travel documents.
Iranian officials claim Jundallah, which has operated from bases in Pakistan, receives support from Western powers, including the United States. Washington denies any links to the group, and in November the State Department added Jundallah to a U.S. list of foreign terrorist organizations.