Iran has arrested a group of foreign nationals for the attack on a major shrine in southern Shiraz, while blaming ISIL armed group for the second attack in less than a year.
“The motivation of this Daeshi [ISIL-affliated] individual was to take revenge for the executions of the two terrorists of the previous incident,” said the Governor of the province of Fars, where the shooting occurred.
The holy shrine in Iran’s southern city of Shiraz came under a second deadly attack in less than a year with another gunman breaking into its grounds and opening fire.
Yadollah Bouali, the provincial commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), told state media that one shooter entered the Shah Cheragh shrine through its southern gate on Sunday at 7pm (15:30 GMT) to carry out a “terrorist” operation, revising earlier reports indicating two shooters.
The assailant, who was arrested at the scene, shot four people killing one, he said, adding the shooter carried an assault rifle and eight magazines with 240 bullets, 11 of which he managed to get off before being subdued.
Videos online showed people running in panic outside the shrine and shutting down their shops. Images showed bullet holes in walls and windows and blood on the ground.
The shrine, located in the province of Fars and one of the most important in Shia Islam, was hit by a similar attack on 26 October, 2022.
Speaking on Monday, Ramezan Sharif, the spokesperson of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), said: “The goals of Daesh [ISIL] and other terrorists against the national interests and people of Iran are intertwined,” and vowed that “we will give a decisive response to the terrorists”.
A lone gunman, identified as Rahmatollah Nowruzof from Tajikistan, entered the Shah Cherag Shrine on Sunday evening and opened fire on pilgrims and staff, killing one and injuring several others. Earlier reports had suggested two shooters were involved.
Several people were taken to the hospital in critical condition, with at least one person falling into a coma, state-linked media have reported.
The shrine, one of the holiest in Shia Islam, was also breached on October 26, 2022, when a gunman entered the compound with an assault rifle, killing 13 and injuring 40 before being shot dead.
For that attack, which Iranian officials also called a “terrorist” operation, two men from neighbouring Afghanistan were convicted of being ISIL agents and executed in early June.
Three more men were also tried and given prison sentences ranging from five to 25 years for working with the armed group, which claimed responsibility for the attack, and was also responsible for coordinated attacks in Tehran in 2017.
Sunday’s shooter was apprehended at the scene by members of the shrine’s staff and security personnel.
The semiofficial Tasnim News Agency on Monday quoted Fars province chief justice Kazem Mousavi as saying 10 people have so far been arrested on suspicion of being involved in the shooting, all of whom were foreign nationals.
“The safe house of the terrorists has also been discovered,” he said without elaborating.
After travelling to the shrine on Monday, Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi said the assailant was being directed from abroad “as part of a network”.