Gunmen kills 15 people at Iran’s Shiite holy site

Kumail Shah
Gunmen kills 15 people at Iran's Shiite holy site

SHIRAZ: Two gunmen assaulted a major Shiite holy shrine of Shah Chirag in Iran, killing at least 15 people and injuring 40 more on Wednesday. The attack occurred as protestors across Iran honored 40 days after Mahsa Amini’s death in jail sparked the largest anti-government uprising in almost a decade.

State television blamed the attack on “takfiris,” Sunni Muslim militants who have previously targeted the country’s Shiite majority. The attack did not appear to be tied to the protests.

According to the judiciary’s official website, two gunmen were apprehended and a third is on the run following the attack on the Shah Cheragh Mausoleum, Iran’s second holiest site. The death toll was announced by the state-run IRNA news agency, while state TV said 40 people were injured.

Without elaborating, an Iranian news source deemed loyal to the Supreme National Security Council said that the attackers were foreign nationals.

Such attacks are uncommon in Iran, but in April, an assailant stabbed two clergy to death at the Imam Reza shrine in Mashhad, the country’s most renowned Shiite landmark.

Earlier in the day, thousands of protestors marched through the streets of a northern city to mark the 40th anniversary of the death in custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, whose death began the protests.

Deaths are celebrated anew 40 days later in Shiite Islam, like in many other religions, with an outpouring of grief. Crowds snaked through the local cemetery and thronged Amini’s tomb in her Kurdish hometown of Saqez, the source of the statewide upheaval that is now rattling Iran.

According to camera footage that coincides with known features of the city and Aichi Cemetery, demonstrators yelled, “Death to the dictator!” Women ripped their hijabs, or headscarves, and waved them above their heads.

Other footage showed a large procession moving along a highway and into a dusty field toward Amini’s grave. Road closures were reported in the area.

READ MORE: Iranian climber applauds supporters after competing without hijab

According to state-run media, 10,000 demonstrators marched to her burial.

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