Iran arrests members of Sunni rebel group - agency
Iran has arrested seven members of Jundollah, a Sunni rebel group it has accused of carrying out bombings and terrorist activities, the semi-official Fars news agency said on Wednesday, Reuters reported.
Jundollah (God's soldiers) claimed responsibility for an Oct. 18 attack in Iran's impoverished Sistan-Baluchestan province that killed more than 40 people, including 15 members of the elite Revolutionary Guards.
"Seven members of the terrorist group were arrested recently. They have been charged as 'mohareb' (one who wages war against God)," said Ebrahim Hamidi, head of Sistan-Baluchestan's justice department, Fars reported.
Iran hanged 13 members of the group in July and one on Nov. 3 for alleged killings and attacks in the southeast region that borders Pakistan and Afghanistan. The execution of a brother of Jundollah leader Abdolmalek Rigi was postponed.
Predominantly Shi'ite Iran has linked Jundollah to the Sunni Islamist al Qaeda network and accuses Pakistan, Britain and the United States of backing the Sunni rebel group to destabilise the country. London, Washington and Islamabad all deny this.
Jundollah, which accuses the Iranian government of discrimination against Sunnis, has been blamed for many deadly incidents over the last few years. The group reportedly claimed the bombing of a mosque in Sistan-Baluchestan in May that killed 25 people.
Sectarian violence is relatively rare in Iran, whose leaders reject allegations by Western rights groups that it discriminates against ethnic and religious minorities.
Many minority Sunnis live in the desert area, which has seen an increase in bombings and clashes between security forces, ethnic Baluch Sunni insurgents and drug traffickers.