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Terrorism & Security

Iran executes 13 Sunni rebels

The condemned were members of Jundallah, which claims to fight for the rights of Sunnis in majority-Shiite Iran. The government has accused the group of ties to Pakistan and the US.

By Huma Yusuf / July 14, 2009

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Iran has executed 13 members of a Sunni rebel group accused of carrying out terrorist attacks in Iran, including mosque bombings and kidnapping foreigners.

The executions took place Tuesday in the southeastern city of Zahedan in the restive Sistan-Baluchistan Province, which borders Pakistan and Afghanistan (click here for a map of the region). Jundallah, which reportedly has up to 1,000 armed fighters, claims to fight against the Shiite regime's marginalization of Iran's 2 million ethnic Baluchis, who are primarily Sunni Muslims.

The group is accused of attacking high-profile targets, including government and security officials. Most recently, Jundallah claimed responsibility for the bombing of a Shia mosque in Zahedan which killed 25 people, reports Agence France-Presse.

The executions are expected to deal a blow to the rebel group. But they may also heighten tensions between Iran and Pakistan because Tehran has long accused Islamabad of allowing Jundallah to operate from its territory. The Iranian government has also accused the US of supporting Jundallah.

The BBC reports that the execution of the most prominent Jundallah member in custody has been postponed. Abdolhamid Rigi, the brother of Jundallah leader Abdolmalek Rigi and the group's second in command, will be executed later this week, according to government press reports.

The fighters were executed for opening fire on a convoy of vehicles and killing 23 people in Tasuki in March 2006, along with other crimes, reports the Tehran Times, an Iranian daily.

[Ebrahim Hamidi, the chairman of Baluchestan's Justice Department] said the rulings were issued in proportionate with the kinds of the crimes they had committed, including the Tasuki incident, creating roadblocks in Chabahar road, kidnapping foreign nationals, and armed robberies.

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