TEHRAN, Iran (AP) – A suicide car bomber attacked a police headquarters in the southeastern Iranian port city of Chabahar on Thursday, killing at least two people and wounding 15, state TV reported. No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, though a semi-official news agency blamed a Sunni jihadi group for the assault.
State television broke into its regular broadcast to report the attack as such assaults are rare in the Islamic Republic.
Rahmdel Bameri, a provincial official, told state TV that a suicide attacker driving a vehicle loaded with explosives drove up to the police headquarters. He said police officers blocked the vehicle and started firing at the driver, who then detonated his explosives.
State TV also aired footage of smoke rising over the city. State television said two police officers were killed, lowering an initially reported death toll of three without explanation.
State authorities did not identify who was behind the attack. No militant group immediately said it was behind the bombing. However, the semi-official Tasnim news agency, believed to be close to Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard, blamed the attack on Ansar al-Furqan, a Sunni jihadi group.
Ansar al-Furqan is known to operate in Iran’s southeastern Sistan and Baluchistan Province, which sees occasional attacks by Baluch separatists and drug traffickers. A year ago, the group claimed to have blown up an oil pipeline in Iran’s southern Khuzestan province.
Chabahar, near Iran’s border with Pakistan on the Sea of Oman, is home to a new port recently built and is an economic free zone for the country.
The attack comes as Iran’s economy reels in the wake of the U.S. re-imposing sanctions lifted by Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers. While Iran still complies with the accord, President Donald Trump withdrew America over the deal in part due to Tehran’s ballistic missile program, its “malign behavior” in the Mideast and its support of militant groups like Hezbollah.
While rare, Iran has been targeted in recent years by militant attacks.
In September, gunmen disguised as soldiers opened fire on a military parade in Ahvaz, killing at least 24 people and wounding over 60. Arab separatists and the Islamic State group both claimed the assault. Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, blamed Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates for the attack, allegations denied by both countries.
A coordinated June 2017 Islamic State group assault on parliament and the shrine of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution, killed at least 18 people and wounded more than 50.
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