1026 GMT February 28, 2020
The UN Security Council and the European Union on Thursday condemned a suicide bombing which killed 27 troops and wounded 13 others in southeastern Iran.
In a statement, the members of the council called the terrorist attack “heinous and cowardly” and expressed their sympathy and condolences to the families of the victims and to the Iranian government.
The council members reaffirmed that terrorism in all its forms and manifestations constitutes one of the most serious threats to international peace and security.
They underlined the need to hold perpetrators, organizers, financiers and sponsors of terrorism accountable and bring them to justice, and urged all states to cooperate with the Iranian government and all other relevant authorities in this regard.
“Any acts of terrorism are criminal and unjustifiable, regardless of their motivation, wherever, whenever and by whomever committed,” they said, reaffirming the need for all states to combat threats to international peace and security caused by terrorist acts.
The European Union condemned the attack, saying, “There can be no justification for such an outrageous act of terror,” and expressing condolences to the families of the victims.
The bombing, which targeted a busload of Islamic Revolution Guards Corps personnel in Sistan-Baluchistan Province on Wednesday, was one of the deadliest attacks on Iranian security forces in years.
The troops killed were aged from 21 to 52 and belonged to the IRGC’s 14th Imam Hussein Division.
The bomber struck as they were returning from a patrol mission on the border with Pakistan, where Baluchi separatist and jihadist groups have rear bases, the IRGC said in a statement.
The attack was claimed by the so-called Jaish al-Adl (Army of Justice), which is blacklisted as a terrorist group by Iran. The organization was formed in 2012 as a successor to the terrorist group Jundallah (Soldiers of God), which waged a deadly insurgency for a decade before being severely weakened by the capture and execution of its ringleader Abdolmalek Rigi by Iran in 2010.
It came just days after Iran held more than a week of celebrations for the 40th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, which overthrew the US-backed shah.
Lebanon’s Shia movement Hezbollah also denounced the attack, saying it was in retaliation for “the Iranian nation’s huge turnout in rallies” marking the anniversary.
“The takfiri and terrorist gangs behind this horrific suicide attack were nurtured, financed and supported by the US, Israel and their regional allies,” Hezbollah said.
Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei said the attack’s perpetrators were certainly linked to “the spying agencies of some regional and trans-regional countries.”
In a message, Ayatollah Khamenei offered condolences to the bereaved families of the victims and called on the IRGC and relevant government institutions to swiftly and seriously follow up on the incident and deal with the perpetrators.
Revenge on ‘mercenaries’
President Hassan Rouhani vowed revenge against the “mercenary group” behind the suicide bombing and accused the US and Israel of supporting terrorism.
“We will certainly make this mercenary group pay for the blood of our martyrs,” said the president. “The main root of terrorism in the region is America and Zionists, and some oil-producing countries in the region also financially support the terrorists.”
Rouhani called on Iran’s neighbors to assume their “legal responsibilities” and not allow “terrorists” to use their soil to prepare attacks.
“If this continues and they cannot stop the terrorists, it is clear – based on international law – that we have certain rights and will act upon them in due time,” he said, without elaborating.
The attack came on the same day as the United States gathered some 60 countries in Poland for a conference on the Middle East and Iran.
Iran linked the attack to the Warsaw conference.
Dubbing the meeting the “Warsaw Circus,” Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said it was “no coincidence that Iran is hit by terror on the very day” that the talks began in the Polish capital.
“Especially when cohorts of same terrorists cheer it from Warsaw streets & support it with twitter bots? US seems to always make the same wrong choices, but expect different results,” Zarif wrote on Twitter.
Sistan-Baluchistan has been hit by previous deadly attacks in recent months.
On January 29, three members of an Iranian bomb squad sent to the scene of an explosion in the provincial capital, Zahedan, were wounded when a second device blew up as they were trying to defuse it.
And in early December, two people were killed and around 40 wounded in an attack in the strategic port city of Chabahar, on the province’s Arabian Sea coast, which Zarif blamed on “foreign-backed terrorists.”
In October, Jaish al-Adl claimed responsibility for abducting 12 Iranian security personnel near the border, five of whom were later released and flown home after Pakistani intervention.
Xinhua, AFP and Press TV contributed to this story.