The National Times - Iran shrine stabbing kills cleric, wounds two others

Iran shrine stabbing kills cleric, wounds two others

Iran shrine stabbing kills cleric, wounds two others
Iran shrine stabbing kills cleric, wounds two others

An attacker stabbed to death an Iranian Shiite Muslim cleric Tuesday and wounded two others, one of them seriously, in the shrine city of Mashhad, officials and state media said.

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The assailant and four suspected accomplices were arrested after the bloody attack in the Imam Reza shrine's courtyard, said Mohammad-Hossein Doroudi, the chief prosecutor of the northeastern city.

"The attacker is a foreign national," he told the Fars news agency, without specifying the country.

Mashhad, Iran's second city, attracts pilgrims from across the country during religious events, including the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which began on Sunday in Iran.

Amateur video footage showed a man lying in a pool of blood in the courtyard of the site with golden domes and minarets.

"A man stabbed three Shiite clerics with knives, killing one and wounding two others," said the governor of Khorasan Razavi province, Yaghoub-Ali Nazari, adding that "one of the injured is in serious condition".

The assailant struck as large crowds of worshippers had gathered in the courtyard of the shrine of Imam Reza, of one of the most revered figures in Shiite Islam.

"Preliminary investigations show that the attacker committed this action under the influence of takfiri currents," Nazari added.

The term "takfiri" is used to describe Muslims who take it upon themselves to brand others as apostates and thus condemn them to death, and usually refers to Sunni extremists.

The Astan Quds Razavi charitable foundation which runs the shrine, said: "With the vigilance of the pilgrims and the efforts of security forces, the assailant was immediately arrested and handed over to the police, and the injured were quickly taken to the hospital.

"The identity of the assailant is under investigation," added that foundation, whose large asset portfolio was managed from 2016 to 2019 by Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi.

State news agency IRNA published mobile phone footage of the arrest of a presumed assailant in which several people were seen pushing a young man in the courtyard.

People were heard shouting "don't beat him up!" in the video, as some tried to prevent him from being attacked.

Iran has a population of 83 million, 90 percent of whom are Shiite.