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Iran, still haunted by Jundallah attacks, blames West

Iran has repeatedly declared victory over Jundallah, the Sunni and Baluch group that claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing that killed at least 39 Shiite worshipers today.

By Staff writer / December 15, 2010

A man walks past the blood stained road surface after a bomb blast in this image taken from TV, in Chahbahar, Iran, Dec. 15.

Press TV/AP

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Istanbul, Turkey

The scale of Iran's suicide bombing on Wednesday – in which at least 39 Iranian Shiite worshipers were killed and 50 injured during the penultimate day of a important religious commemoration – may have surprised Iranian security officials in the southern port city of Chabahar.

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Why? Because Iranian officials have repeatedly declared victory over the group that claimed responsibility, Jundallah (Soldiers of God).

In February, Iran captured Abdolmalek Rigi, of the shadowy Sunni and ethnic Baluch militant group active in southeast Iran and executed him in June. Jundallah retaliated with today's attack, the group said in a statement accompanied by photos of the alleged attackers.

“This operation was a revenge for the hanging of the head of the movement Abdolmalek and other members of Jundallah,” the statement read. “In this suicide operation…tens of [Revolutionary] Guards and mercenaries have been killed. The operation was carried out to expose the aggressors of Baluchistan.”

President Obama strongly condemns the attack

Iranian officials claimed that security forces spotted the two bombers, and shot one before he could detonate his explosives. They said they arrested a third man, the “ringleader,” and alleged that foreign spy agencies were behind the carnage.

Ali Abdollahi, Iran’s deputy interior minister, said the “equipment used shows that they are terrorists supported by the intelligence services of the region and the US,” in remarks reported by the state news agency IRNA.

Iran’s state-run PressTV said it had “learned” that explosives had been provided by Saudi Arabia – whose king was reported to have asked the United States to bomb Iran to “cut off the head of the snake,” according to US diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks.

Alaeddin Borujerdi, the head of the parliament’s foreign affairs committee, said the “intelligence services of the United States and Britain” were behind the attack, according to the ISNA news agency.

President Barack Obama spoke out strongly against the attack, however, which fell during the Shiite Muslim holiday of Ashura.

"I strongly condemn the outrageous terrorist attack on a mosque in Chabahar, Iran," said Obama in a written statement. "The murder of innocent civilians in their place of worship during Ashura is a despicable offense, and those who carried it out must be held accountable. This is a disgraceful and cowardly act."

Alistair Burt, the British foreign office minister for the Middle East, said the UK “strongly condemns this atrocity.”

Attackers struck sooner than expected

Three photographs accompanied the Jundallah statement. The first image shows the two young men – one appears young enough to still be a school student – posing with AK-47 assault rifles and with two plastic-wrapped suicide vests in front of them.

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