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Criminals behind Sunni cleric’s assassination are against prosperity, unity of all Iranian ethnic groups: Leader

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei

Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei has denounced the abduction and assassination of renowned Sunni cleric Molavi Abdulvahed Rigi in Iran’s southeastern province of Sistan and Baluchestan, stating that those responsible for the heinous crime  have actually served parties opposed to the prosperity and unity of all Iranian ethnic groups.

Ayatollah Khamenei, in a message released on Wednesday, expressed deep condolences over the tragic incident, calling upon relevant authorities to promptly and seriously prosecute those involved, and bring them to justice.

The kidnapping and the martyrdom of “this benevolent and brave scholar filled my heart with great sorrow. The bandits who committed the crime are dishonored mercenaries of enemies opposed to the prosperity of our Baluch compatriots and the unity of the entire Iranian nation,” the Leader wrote.

“Relevant institutions are duty-bound to rapidly and seriously prosecute and punish the criminals,” he said.

Ayatollah Khamenei also commiserated with the Sunni cleric’s family and all the population of Sistan and Baluchestan province, especially the residents of Khash and Iranshahr cities, and prayed for God's mercy upon all Iranians.

Iran’s Intelligence Ministry announced in a statement on Tuesday that it had identified and arrested three of the main terrorist elements behind Molavi Abdulvahed Rigi’s assassination.

“These terrorist elements were planning to abscond from the country after the assassination of the martyr when they were arrested” by the intelligence forces, the statement noted.

Iran’s Intelligence Ministry said further information regarding the case will subsequently be released.

The provincial officials confirmed on Friday that Molavi Abdulvahed Rigi had been kidnapped and murdered by unknown individuals as the police investigated the case.

The Sunni cleric was the Friday prayers leader of Imam Hussein Mosque in Khash, in the southeastern province. He was also a seminary teacher.

Mehdi Shamsabadi, the province’s prosecutor, said the cleric was present at his mosque on Thursday, but unknown individuals called him from the rear door, making him sit in a car that had no license plate.

Shamsabadi said local forces had been mobilized to find the whereabouts of the cleric since Thursday, but his dead body was found on the roadside in Khash County. The cleric was hit by three bullets, said the prosecutor, adding the bullets came out of his head.

Sistan and Baluchestan Province has been among the regions affected by foreign-backed riots that have erupted since 22-year-old woman Mahsa Amini died at the hospital on September 16, three days after she collapsed at a police station. An investigation has attributed Amini’s death to her medical condition, rather than alleged beatings by the police.

The violent riots, meanwhile, have claimed the lives of dozens of people and security forces, while also allowing terrorist attacks across the country. In the last two months, the terrorists have set fire to public property and tortured several Basij members and security forces to death.

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