An attack by an apparent suicide bomber in Zahedan, the capital of Iran’s Sistan-Balochistan Province, tore through a Shi’ite mosque, killing at least 30 and wounding 60 others. Though no group has taken credit for the attack, the Iranian government claimed the attack was an attempt to capitalize of instabilily in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Zahedan is roughly 50 miles south of the three-way border between Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
The mosque was partially destroyed in the attack, and the state media said a second explosive was defused after the first one was detonated. The mosque was crowded for the commemoration of a Shi’ite holiday.
Sistan-Balochistan is Iran’s largest province, and is populated primarily by Sunni Balochs. The province is the base of operations for the Jundallah militant group, which has in the past launched attacks against members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards. It seems likely that the culprits were from this group, or one of the other Baloch separatist groups.
The attack also comes just weeks before Iran’s next presidential election, and officials speculated it could have been aimed at influencing the outcome. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is seeking re-election against three challengers.