Gunmen left 15 dead and 40 wounded at the Shah Cheragh mosque, the second holiest site in Iran
Gunmen attacked a major Shiite holy site in Iran on Wednesday, killing at least 15 people and wounding dozens. The attack came as protesters elsewhere in Iran marked a symbolic 40 days since a woman’s death in custody ignited the biggest anti-government movement in over a decade.
State TV blamed the attack on “takfiris,” a term that refers to Sunni Muslim extremists who have targeted the country’s Shiite majority in the past. The attack appeared to be unrelated to the demonstrations.
The official website of the judiciary said two gunmen were arrested and a third is on the run after the attack on the Shah Cheragh mosque, the second holiest site in Iran. The state-run IRNA news agency reported the death toll and state TV said 40 people were wounded.
An Iranian news website considered to be close to the Supreme National Security Council reported that the attackers were foreign nationals, without elaborating.
Such attacks are rare in Iran, but last April, an assailant stabbed two clerics to death at the Imam Reza shrine, the country’s most revered Shiite site, in the northeast city of Mashhad.
Earlier on Wednesday, thousands of protesters had poured into the streets of a northwestern city to mark the watershed 40 days since the death in custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, whose tragedy sparked the protests.
Deaths are commemorated in Shiite Islam — as in many other traditions — again 40 days later, typically with an outpouring of grief. In Amini’s Kurdish hometown of Saqez, the birthplace of the nationwide unrest now roiling Iran, crowds snaked through the local cemetery and thronged her grave.
Read more of this story