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Iran lauds arrests of MKO members in France

Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said that France's action in arresting a group of Terrorist Mujahedin Khalq Organization (MKO) as a positive step, IRNA repored from Tehran.

"We expected French authorities, in line with European Union provisions branding the grouplet as a terrorist organization, to take actions against them," he told IRNA.

He said the action also conforms with France's international responsibilities.

"We have handed to French authorities and the International Police (Interpol) information on the grouplet including their terrorist activities and pending legal cases."

He also said Iran expects France to treat the group similar to other dangerous terrorist organizations.

French anti-terrorist police on Tuesday arrested 165 members of terrorist (MKO) on the outskirts of Paris, French Interior Ministry said in a statement.

Some 1,200 officers targeted more than a dozen locations in the northwestern outskirts of Paris, including the European headquarters of MKO in the town of Auvers-sur-Oise, it said.

The statement said the operation had succeeded in effectively dismantling the People's Mujahedin in France, and that the Auvers-sur-Oise compound had become the organization's international base.

Police said they had uncovered about dlrs 1.3 million in 100-dollar bills and extensive amounts of computer equipment in one villa.

The MKO militia took refuge in Saddam Hussein's Iraq during the Iraqi-imposed war on Iran (1980-1988), collaborating with Iraqi army to topple the Islamic Republic.

The group is classified as a 'terrorist' organization by the United States and the European Union.

Minister of Intelligence praises Paris for mass MKO arrest, vows more in pursuit

Minister of Intelligence Hojatoleslam Ali Yunesi here on Wednesday praised the massive crackdown by French police on the outlawed Mujahideen Khalq Organization (MKO) and said 'sooner or later other countries will also do the same'.

Hojatoleslam Yunesi said based on the UN charter all countries have the duty to confront terrorist groups as Iran did with al-Qaeda forces.

"We are happy with this action of the French; France is the cradle of law. They have acted on their duty. Sooner or later other countries will also do the same," Yunesi told a group of reporters after his closed door Majlis briefing on his ministry's performance in the case of recent student unrest to protest the privatization of universities.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid-Reza Asefi had in an interview with IRNA here on Wednesday also said recent operations by the French police against the so-called MKO were 'praiseworthy' considering the 'terrorist and dangerous' nature of the outfit.

French anti-terrorist police on Tuesday launched a major crackdown on the MKO on the outskirts of Paris and detained 165 people, including one of the terrorist organization's leaders, Maryam Rajavi.

Asefi told IRNA that a comprehensive judicial investigation into the activities of the MKO will reveal the atrocities that the group perpetrated against the Iranian nation over the past years.

"The Islamic Republic is determined to seriously continue its cooperation in fighting terrorism," he added.


Hojatoleslam Yunesi told reporters that confrontation against the so-called plainclothesmen will be a national drive to be strongly confronted.

Yunesi said some of the plainclothesmen have been arrested and actions will continue.

He said all organs, including the Ministries of the Interior, of Information (Intelligence) and of Research, Science and Technology as well as the Islamic Republic of Iran's Police are involved in operations to check recent riots.

"We are trying to make a distinction between academia and students and the rioters, hooligans and instigators and thanks God the same has been fulfilled," added the minister.

He said his ministry would hand over the accused to the Judiciary.

The minister mocked the US faint hope on the shaky unrest.

"The US had pinned hopes on the unrest but soon it found out that it had made a mistake," said Yunesi.

Tehran and several other Iranian cities have been boiling for eight consecutive days in unrest, which was sparked by hostel protests at Tehran University dorm against alleged privatization of universities and academic centers.

The latest in the row of unrest, there had reportedly been an angry demonstration in Tehranpars, eastern Tehran, last night to protest police operations to collect devices for receiving satellite television programs that turned violent after plainclothes vigilantes, better known as 'Ansar-e Hezbollah', tried to disperse the crowd.

Although several police and anti-riot units had a strong presence at the scene, the baton-wielding Ansar-e Hezbollah stopped the cars and threatened to break the windshields if the drivers honked. There were shattered glass on the street.

Also, in Sattarkhan Street, western Tehran, a group of thugs set several tires ablaze and tried to create disorder but were dispersed by police.

In Kermanshah, western Iran, the students of Razi University staged a rally at the university's campus. However, a group of hooligans joined the students to misuse the rally by throwing stones at the police. This left several people wounded and the windows of several shops broken.

Still, the students agreed to end the rally after the officials of Razi University as well as Governor General of Kermanshah province Esfandiar Zakeri asked them to do so.

Zakeri told IRNA that a small number of people had been arrested on Tuesday evening's unrest in the city, adding that all had been released after identification.

Meanwhile, the agitators in Karaj, western Tehran, broke the windows of a bank and a drugstore in separate incidents late Tuesday evening and early Wednesday morning. Several anti-riot troops and people were wounded in the incidents.

Police in Mashhad, northeastern Iran, have reported that some 30 people were arrested in connection with the unrest in the city on Tuesday evening.

The police have also reported that 50 instigators have been arrested in rallies in the central city of Yazd.

Further clashes have been reported in the northwestern city of Tabriz that local officials say have lead to the arrest of 90 people.

A brief meeting by students at Tehran University's dorm to protest alleged privatization of universities turned into an angry rally last Tuesday that was followed by several days of late evening demonstrations.

The police have been heavily stationed at the dorm over the past week. No clash between the police and students has been reported.

The police have tried to keep the Ansar-e Hezbollah away from the students to prevent a confrontation and avert the recurrence of the group's violent raid into the dorm in 1999 that left one killed and several others badly wounded thus sparking three days of unrest in Tehran.

However, the Ansar-e Hezbollah, lead by Saeed Asgar, who carried out a failed assassination attempt on Saeed Hajjarian, a member of the former Tehran City Council in 2000, stormed into the dorm of Tehran's Allameh Tabatabaei University early Saturday morning, beat up some 80 students and destroyed their properties.

Police forces on Sunday announced that they had arrested Asgar and several of his secondary members.

... Payvand News - 6/18/03 ... --

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