The death toll from the stabbing incident at the Imam Reza Shrine in Iran’s northeastern city of Mashhad has reached two after another cleric succumbed to his wounds at a local hospital on Thursday.
Identified as Daraei, the young victim was undergoing treatment in the intensive care unit of a local hospital, according to reports.
He was one of the three clerics fatally attacked by a 21-year old assailant at the country’s most revered shrine on Tuesday. They had been volunteering for the shrine in the holy month of Ramadan.
One of them, Mohammad Aslani, succumbed to his wounds instantly after being hit multiple times by the assailant, who reportedly has a foreign nationality.
A report in Tasnim News Agency on Thursday said the second victim had undergone difficult surgery to help him recuperate from multiple stabbing wounds inflicted by the assailant.
Daraei passed away hours after thousands of people gathered in the main courtyard of the Razavi shrine to bid adieu to Aslani, who was laid to rest inside the shrine complex, as per his family’s request.
The three clerics, one of them still battling for his life, were associates who had for years been actively involved in voluntary social and cultural activities in Mashhad, the second-most populous city in Iran.
They had also been working in poor neighborhoods on the outskirts of Mashhad to help people living there improve their living standards and also to provide them religious guidance.
The assailant, identified in local media as Abdol Latif Moradi, a 21-year-old Afghan who illegally entered Iran from Pakistan last year, was immediately taken into police custody.
Videos circulating on social media showed that he was under the influence of Takfiri ideology and the Daesh terrorist group.
Interior minister vows to pursue Takfiris
Iran’s interior minister, Ahmad Vahidi, in a statement on Thursday called it a “terrorist attack” and said his ministry would pursue the perpetrators and all “takfiris”.
He had earlier been instructed by President Ebrahim Raeisi to probe the incident and submit a report.
Expressing his condolences to the families of victims, Vahidi said the attack made it amply clear that the enemy had not abandoned its bid to sow discord among different groups and sects.
He called terrorism an offshoot of the worldview held by arrogant global powers that created Daesh and other terrorist groups.
Dismissing foreign propaganda to sow division between Afghans and Iranians in the wake of the Mashhad incident, Vahidi hailed the shared civilization and deep-rooted ties between the two neighboring countries.
“The enemy is trying to exploit the religious and ethnic differences among friendly nations but this act will lead nowhere,” he asserted. “The best youths of Afghanistan have lost their lives in confronting the Takfiri groups.”
He further said that the Afghan people had thrown Americans out of their country with humiliation.
Vahidi also commended those who denounced the terrorist attack, saying they expect all those voices are heard to condemn such acts.
“We do not expect the West and the US to do so because they themselves have created this mentality and their refusal to condemn [the incident] shows that they support these ideas,” he noted.
Notably, the attack has been widely condemned by leaders and organizations belonging to different religious denominations in both Iran and Afghanistan.
Taliban spokesperson, Zabiullah Mujahid, in a statement on Thursday, condemned the gruesome incident and stressed that the issue has nothing to do with Afghans or Afghanistan.
Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, the former chief executive of Afghanistan, also issued a statement calling the incident a "cowardly terrorist attack".
He said some elements had tried to attribute the identity of the perpetrator to Afghanistan, adding that Afghans are staunch supporters of peace and coexistence with themselves and others.
Afghan scholars based in Iran have also unequivocally condemned the incident, saying the 21-year old Takfiri assailant does not belong to them.