An attack by armed separatists on a police station in a southeastern city has killed 19 people, including four members of Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
The assailants in Friday’s attack hid among worshippers near a mosque in the city of Zahedan, capital of Sistan-Baluchestan province, and then stormed the nearby police station, the state-run IRNA news agency reported on Saturday.
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Provincial Governor Hossein Modaresi was quoted as saying 19 people were killed. The news outlet said 32 IRGC members, including volunteer Basiji forces, were also wounded in clashes.
It was not immediately clear if the attack was related to nationwide anti-government protests gripping Iran after the death in police custody of a young Iranian woman.
Sistan-Baluchestan borders Afghanistan and Pakistan and has seen previous attacks on security forces by ethnic Baluchi separatists.
Tasnim and other state-linked Iranian news outlets reported that the head of the IRGC’s intelligence department, Seyyed Ali Mousavi, was shot during the attack and later died.
It is not unusual for IRGC members to be present at police bases around the country.
Thousands of Iranians have taken to the streets over the last two weeks to protest the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman who had been detained by the “morality police” in the capital of Tehran for allegedly wearing her headscarf too loosely.
The protesters have vented their anger over the treatment of women and wider repression in Iran.
Iranian state TV has reported at least 41 protesters and police have been killed since the demonstrations began on September 17.