Iran publicly hangs 2 over deadly shooting at Shiraz shrine claimed by Islamic State

Nationalities of men not revealed but Tehran previously said attack involved people from other countries; public executions relatively rare, with almost all carried out in prisons

Workers clean up the scene following an armed attack at the Shah Cheragh mausoleum in the Iranian city of Shiraz, in which 15 people were killed, on October 26, 2022. (ISNA NEWS AGENCY/AFP)
Workers clean up the scene following an armed attack at the Shah Cheragh mausoleum in the Iranian city of Shiraz, in which 15 people were killed, on October 26, 2022. (ISNA NEWS AGENCY/AFP)

TEHRAN — Iran hanged two men in public on Saturday over a shooting at a revered shrine in the southern city of Shiraz last year that killed more than a dozen people, the judiciary said.

The October 26 attack on the Shiite Muslim shrine of Shah Cheragh, which left 13 people dead and 30 wounded, was claimed by the Sunni Muslim extremist Islamic State (IS) group.

“The death sentences of two of the perpetrators of the Shah Cheragh terrorist attack were carried out in public this morning,” the judiciary’s Mizan Online website said.

The pair were hanged at dawn on a street near the shrine in Shiraz, the capital of Fars province, the official news agency IRNA reported. Mizan identified them as Mohammad Ramez Rashidi and Naeem Hashem Qatali.

Iran had previously said the attack involved people from other countries, including neighboring Afghanistan, but the nationalities of the executed men were not immediately revealed.

The area of Iran that borders Afghanistan and Pakistan is a hotbed of unrest, and on Saturday four assailants killed two Iranian policemen in the Sunni-majority city of Zahedan near the same frontier, state media said.

Workers clean up following a deadly armed attack at the Shah Cheragh mausoleum in the Iranian city of Shiraz on October 26, 2022. (Mohammadreza Dehdari/ISNA News Agency/AFP)

All four “terrorists” involved in the attack were killed in ensuing clashes, IRNA cited the security forces as saying.

It was not immediately clear what was behind the attack in the capital of Sistan-Baluchistan province, a flashpoint for clashes with Sunni extremists as well as drug smugglers and rebels from the Baluchi minority.

Mizan said one of the men executed on Saturday, Rashidi, had confessed to having collaborated with IS to carry out October’s shrine attack.

The two were sentenced to death in March after convictions of “corruption on earth, armed rebellion and acting against national security,” as well as “conspiracy against the security of the country.”

‘Takfiri’ arrests

Fars chief justice Kazem Moussavi said at the time they were directly involved in the “arming, procurement, logistics and guidance” of the main perpetrator.

Three other defendants in the case were sentenced to prison for five, 15 and 25 years for being members of IS, he said.

The main assailant, who was later identified by media in Iran as Hamed Badakhshan, who was in his 30s, died of injuries suffered during his arrest, the authorities said.

In November, the Islamic republic said 26 “takfiri terrorists” from Afghanistan, Azerbaijan and Tajikistan had been arrested in connection with the attack.

Mourners take part in a funeral for victims of a mass shooting at a key shrine earlier in the week that killed more than a dozen worshippers, in Iran’s southern city of Shiraz, on October 29, 2022. (Mohammadreza Dehdari/ISNA News Agency/AFP)

In Shiite-dominated Iran, the term takfiri generally refers to jihadists or proponents of radical Sunni Islam.

The shrine attack came more than a month after protests erupted across Iran over the death of 22-year-old Iranian Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini, following her arrest in Tehran for allegedly violating the country’s dress code for women.

In October, Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi blamed the “riots” — the term officials use for protests — for paving the way for “terrorist” attacks.

IS claimed its first attack in Iran in 2017 when armed men and suicide bombers attacked the parliament in Tehran and the mausoleum of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic republic, killing 17 people and wounding dozens.

Public executions are relatively rare in Iran with almost all hangings carried out inside prisons.

Iran executes more people annually than any nation other than China, according to rights groups including the London-based Amnesty International.

A United Nations fact-finding mission said this week that Iran had executed seven men in connection with the Amini protests, calling on it to stop the “chilling” practice.

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