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Suicide bombing in Iran kills at least 39

TEHRAN, Iran — Suicide bombers killed at least 39 people and wounded dozens more Wednesday while targeting a procession of worshipers observing an important Shiite Muslim holiday in southeastern Iran, state media reported.

The Jundallah organization, a militant Sunni group that claims to represent Iran's mostly Sunni ethnic Baluch minority, posted on a website that it was responsible for the attack. The bombing was the latest sign that the troubles in South Asia, including Sunni extremism, are increasingly seeping into Iran.

Footage aired on Iranian television showed bloodstained asphalt in the city of Chabahar's Farmandari Square as panicked crowds rushed toward the site of the blast and emergency response personnel loaded the injured into waiting ambulances.

Initial reports described at least one blast outside the Hossein Mosque and another one or two failed bombing attempts. Shortly after the attack, Jundallah posted photographs of two smiling young men, identified as Seif Rahman Chabahar and Hassan Khasi, wearing what appeared to be explosives-laden belts.

Jundallah and the Iranian government are locked in an ongoing war that has claimed the lives of hundreds of people over the past five years. The eventual death toll from Wednesday's bombing could surpass an Oct. 18, 2009, attack, also claimed by Jundallah, which killed 42 people in the city of Pisheen. That was Iran's deadliest internal terrorist attack in 20 years.

In the immediate aftermath of Wednesday's bombing, Iranian officials repeated claims that the attack had been carried out by Jundallah with American and Arab support. The United States denies those claims and placed Jundallah on its list of terrorist organizations last month.

President Barack Obama condemned the bombing as a "disgraceful and cowardly" attack.

"The murder of innocent civilians in their place of worship during Ashura is a despicable offense, and those who carried it out must be held accountable. The United States stands with the families and loved ones of those killed and injured, and with the Iranian people, in the face of this injustice," Obama said.

Suicide bombing in Iran kills at least 39 12/15/10 [Last modified: Monday, November 7, 2011 1:41pm]
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