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Blast at mosque kills 9 in Iran

TEHRAN, Iran – A bomb explosion in a mosque packed with hundreds of worshippers in Iran killed at least nine people and injured more than 100 Saturday, media reported.

The semi-official Fars news agency said the explosion in Shiraz occurred as a cleric was delivering his weekly speech against extremist Wahabi beliefs and the outlawed Bahai faith.

The report said nine people were killed and 105 injured, some of them critically. The explosion shook houses more than a mile away, and ambulances and firefighters were rushing to the mosque, it said. Officials urged the public to donate blood and called in all available nurses in the city.

A police official said a homemade bomb caused the explosion, Fars reported. It also quoted a young woman who was there as saying about 800 worshippers were in the mosque at the time of the explosion.

Bombings are unusual in Shiraz, a major draw for tourists who come to see the ruins of nearby Persepolis, an ancient Persian kingdom that was a center for ceremonies and worship. No one claimed responsibility for the attack.

Iran has faced several ethnic and religious insurgencies that have been behind rare but deadly attacks in recent years – though none has amounted to a serious threat to the government.

In February 2007, a car loaded with explosives blew up near a bus carrying members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, killing 11 of them and wounding more than 30 in southeastern Iran.

A Sunni militant group that has been blamed for past attacks on Iranian troops claimed responsibility.

The mosque targeted is part of the Rahpouyan-e-Vesal cultural center in Shiraz, about 559 miles south of the capital, Tehran.


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