Rebels kill 21 people on Iran

Rebels posing as security forces have killed 21 people on a highway in southeastern Iran , the national chief of police said Friday. Gen. Esmaeil Ahmadi Moghaddam accused U.S. and British intelligence of being behind the rebel attack on Thursday night, the official Iranian news agency reported.

Rebels posing as policemen and soldiers stopped people and killed them on the Zabol-Zahedan road in Sistan-Baluchestan province, which borders Pakistan and Afghanistan , the agency quoted Moghaddam as saying. "People thought they were Iranian police (ordering them to stop)," Moghaddam said.

"Twenty-one people have been martyred and seven injured," he added. There are no well-known opposition groups operating in southeastern Iran , but the region is known for gangs of drug traffickers who have frequently clashed with security forces and occasionally kidnapped people.

Moghaddam said the police had information indicating that U.S. and British intelligence agents had met representatives of the rebels, but he gave no details. Iran has previously accused the United States and Britain of responsibility for bombings in its southwestern province of Khuzestan , where there has been unrest connected to Iran 's Arab minority. Blasts in the Khuzestan capital, Ahvaz , killed six people and wounded 46 others on Jan. 24 blasts.

The United States and Britain have denied any involvement in the Khuzestan bombings. "It appears that a plan to create instability and religious hatred, similar to the bombing of the Shiite shrine in Samarra (in Iraq ), is being pursued here," IRNA quoted Moghaddam as saying. Moghaddam said police were searching for the rebels, who may have fled to Afghanistan , reports the AP.


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