TEHRAN, Iran — An Islamic militant group whose leader was recently executed by Iranian authorities claimed responsibility Friday for a devastating pair of bomb blasts the previous night that killed at least 27 people, including members of the elite Revolutionary Guard, and injured 270 people at a mosque in southeastern Iran.
Jundollah, a Sunni organization that draws support from Iran's ethnic Baluch minority and inspiration from Osama bin Laden's extremist ideology, said it dispatched two suicide bombers to the mosque in the city of Zahedan during an evening prayer ceremony. The group said its goal was to kill members of the Revolutionary Guard and avenge the arrest and hanging last month of its leader, Abdolmalek Rigi.
Iranian officials contend that Jundollah is backed by the United States, citing televised confessions Rigi made during his detention. On Friday, Iranian politicians blamed the United States, Britain and Israel for Thursday's terrorist attack, even though Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton had strongly condemned what she described as a "horrific" act of terrorism.
"The United States condemns all forms of terrorism and sectarian-driven violence, wherever it occurs, and stands with the victims of these appalling acts," she said in a statement released late Thursday. "This attack, along with the recent attacks in Uganda, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq and Algeria, underscores the global community's need to work together to combat terrorist organizations that threaten the lives of innocent civilians all around the world."