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Key element behind Sistan and Balouchestan riots has fled Iran: Report

Abdul-Ghaffar Naqshbandi (File photo)

One of the key elements behind the recent violent riots in Iran’s southeastern province of Sistan and Baluchestan has fled the country, according to a report.

An informed source told the official news agency IRNA on Wednesday that Abdul-Ghaffar Naqshbandi, a provocateur who played a major role in disrupting the security of the province, has fled the country and taken refuge in a neighboring country.

“Abdul-Ghaffar Naqshbandi has been transferred to one of the neighboring countries after an arrest warrant was issued against him,” the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The source explained that Naqshbandi was recently living in hiding and fled the country out of fear that his connections with foreign spy agencies would come to light.

He had long been a pawn in the hands of foreign spy agencies and was helped flee the country “by his masters” after the Shia and Sunni people of the province found out about his ill intentions, the source noted.

The source added that Naqshbandi also had a role in the assassination of Sunni cleric Molavi Mustafa Jangi Zahi, who was fatally shot on January 20, 2012 while traveling on a road between the southeastern Iranian port city of Chabahar and Sarbaz city.

Sistan and Baluchestan Province has been among the regions most affected by foreign-backed riots that erupted after 22-year-old woman Mahsa Amini died in 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.

Later in September, Zahedan, the capital city of Sistan and Baluchestan, saw an attack on a police station and a mosque. The assailants torched a fire engine, an emergency station, and a bank there, but according to authorities, their attempts to trigger an ethnic sedition in the region fell flat thanks to the timely presence of security forces.

In December, Sunni cleric Molavi Abdulvahed Rigi was kidnapped and murdered by unknown individuals. He was the Friday prayers leader of Imam Hussein Mosque in Khash, in the southeastern province.

Days before the incident, Rigi, who was seen as a symbol of unity between Shia and Sunni Muslims, had met with a delegation dispatched by Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei to the province to investigate the September attacks.

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