Iran identifies suspected bomb-maker behind twin blasts, arrests 35 people

Intelligence ministry says one alleged bomber identified as Tajikistan national, who entered Iran illegally last month.

A woman mourns over the flag-draped coffin of her son who was killed in twin bomb blasts in Kerman, Iran, on January 3 [Vahid Salemi/AP Photo]

Iranian authorities say they have identified the alleged ringleader who made bombs used in the twin bombings on January 3 in the southeastern city of Kerman that killed more than 90 people, state media reported.

On Thursday, the Ministry of Intelligence said the main suspect who planned the bombings was a Tajik national known by his alias Abdollah Tajiki, the IRNA news agency reported.

He had entered Iran in mid-December by crossing the southeast border, and left two days before the attack, after making the bombs, according to a statement from the ministry.

The ISIL (ISIS) armed group claimed responsibility on January 4 for the attack in Kerman, about 820km (510 miles) southeast of the capital, Tehran, at a memorial for top commander Qassem Soleimani.

Soleimani, the head of the elite Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), was killed in a drone strike in Iraq in 2020 ordered by then-United States President Donald Trump.

On Thursday, authorities said the death toll from the attack had climbed to 94, among them 14 Afghan nationals. More than 280 people were wounded.

So far 35 people have been arrested across several provinces with alleged links to the bombings, IRNA said.

According to the ministry, one bomber first detonated his explosives at the ceremony in Kerman, then another attacked 20 minutes later as emergency workers and other people tried to help the wounded from the first blast.

Iran blast
People gather at the scene of the explosions in Kerman [File: West Asia News Agency/Reuters]

Last week, as funerals were held in Kerman, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi promised to retaliate for the attack, telling Tehran’s enemies that “our forces will decide on the place and time to take action”.

The United Nations, the European Union and several countries, including China, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Iraq, denounced the bombings.

Tehran frequently alleges that both Israel and the US support anti-Iran armed groups involved in past attacks.

In 2022, ISIL claimed responsibility for an attack on an Iranian Shia shrine that killed 15 people.

Earlier attacks attributed to ISIL include the 2017 twin bombings targeting Iran’s parliament and the mausoleum of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder of the republic.

Source: News Agencies