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Cleric gunned down in southeast Iran

Press TV - Unidentified gunmen have assassinated a cleric in the city of Khash in Iran's Sistan-Baluchestan Province, a local official says.

Khash deputy governor-general Ali-Reza Shahraki announced on Monday that Hojjatoleslam Ali Ebadi had been gunned down by unknown assailants, adding that police were investigating the case.

No group has so far claimed responsibility for the assassination.

Sistan-Baluchestan has been the target of terrorist operations by Jundullah -- a Pakistan-based terrorist organization -- militants in recent years.

Sistan o Baluchestan is one of the 30 provinces of Iran. It is in the southeast of the country, bordering Pakistan and Afghanistan and its capital is Zahedan. The province is the largest in Iran, with an area of 181,785 kmē and a population of 4.1 million. The counties of the province are Iran Shahr, Chabahar, Khash, Zabol, Zahedan, Saravan, and Nik Shahr.

ABC News, in 2007, cited US and Pakistani intelligence sources that Jundullah (Soldiers of God), which "has taken responsibility for the deaths and kidnappings of Iranian soldiers and officials", "has been secretly encouraged and advised by American officials" to destabilize the government in Iran.

In another report in July, investigative journalist Seymour Hersh revealed that US Congressional leaders secretly agreed last year to President George W. Bush's $400-million funding request for a major escalation in covert operations in Iran.

Under the ruling, the US can arm and fund terrorist groups such as the Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO) and Jundullah militants.

The group's ringleader Abdolmalek Rigi describes his terrorist cell as a 'national movement' and denies any links to Washington.

... Payvand News - 04/06/09 ... --

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