|Jundallah claimed responsibility for an attack which killed 42 people in October, 2009 [EPA]|
The Sunni Muslim group Jundallah (Soldiers of God) has claimed responsibility for several deadly attacks in Iran’s southeastern province of Sistan-Baluchestan.
It was founded in 2002 and launched its armed campaign in 2005.
An Iranian court said in June that Jundallah was responsible for the killing of at least 154 security personnel and civilians.
The group is believed to number fewer than 1,000 fighters armed with explosives and small weapons in Sistan-Baluchestan which borders both Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Abdulmalek Rigi, Jundallah’s slain leader, said in a 2007 interview that his group was fighting for the rights of the Baluch people, facing what he called “genocide” in Iran, but denied it promoted any separatist or radical sectarian agenda.
Rigi vowed to fight the Shia government in Iran unless economic conditions improve in the province.
The group has carried out kidnappings and, more recently, suicide attacks.
Iran has claimed that Jundallah has links to the al-Qaeda network.
It has also accused the United States, the United Kingdom and Pakistan of backing the fighters in order to create instability in the country.
A court statement released upon the execution of Rigi on June 19 said Jundallah was “linked to members of foreign intelligence services, including members from US and Zionist regime’s intelligence services under the cover of Nato.”
Rigi was arrested in February after Iranian warplanes forced the flight he was on from Dubai to Kyrgyzstan to land at an Iranian airport.
After his arrest, Rigi said on state-run TV that Iranian authorities had detained him on his way to a meeting with a “high-ranking American person” in Kyrgyzstan.
US officials have described the allegations as baseless Iranian propaganda.
“They [Americans] said they would co-operate with us and will give me military equipment,” Rigi said in Farsi in the prerecorded television statement.
Rigi was hanged in Tehran after the court said he had “ordered 15 armed abductions, confessed to three murders, ordered the murders of tens of citizens, police and military personnel through bombings and armed actions.”
More than 20 men, including Rigi’s brother, have been executed this year accused of involvement with Jundallah.
Main attacks blamed on Jundallah:
October 18, 2009: In the deadliest attack in Iran since the 1980s, a bombing kills 40 people. Fifteen Revolutionary Guards members were among those killed. Jundallah claims responsibility.
May 28, 2009: A suicide bomber kills 25 people and injures more than 120 in an attack on a mosque in Zahedan, the capital of Sistan-Baluchestan. Jundallah claimed responsibility for the attack.
December, 2008: Abdul-Ghafoor Rigi, a brother of the group’s leader, carries out a suicide attack in Saravan on a security forces headquarters.
February 14, 2007: Eleven members of the Revolutionary Guards are killed in an attack on a bus in the city of Zahedan. Jundallah claims responsibility for this and several other attacks the same year.
December 14, 2005: An assassination attempt is carried out against Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the president, while on a visit to Sistan- Baluchistan.
June, 2005: Shahab Mansuri, a Revolutionary Guard officer, is kidnapped and killed a month later.