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Three men hanged in Iran for mosque bombing

  • Story Highlights
  • Three men convicted of involvement of bombing in Sistan-Balochistan province
  • More than 20 killed, 125 injured when blast struck during prayers at Shia mosque
  • Sistan-Balochistan has clashes involving police, drug dealers, armed groups
  • Hardline cleric accuses U.S., Israel of involvement; U.S. denies allegations
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TEHRAN, Iran (CNN) -- Three men who were involved in the recent bombing of a mosque in the city of Zahedan were hanged Saturday, only two days after the explosion that killed and injured dozens of worshippers, according to Iran's judiciary.

A judiciary spokesman in the southeastern province of Sistan-Baluchestan told the state-run news agency IRNA that Haji Noti Zehi, Gholam Rasoul Shai Zehi and Zabihollah Naroubi had smuggled into the country the explosives used in Thursday's bombing in the Shia mosque of Amir al-Momenin.

Before the executions, Hojatoleslam Ebrahim Hamidi said: "These three traitors, who smuggled in the explosives and put them at the disposal of a terrorist played a major role in the murders," IRNA said.

The three were hanged in public just before the funerals of the people killed in the mosque Thursday.

"The three were charged with waging war (against God), corruption on earth and activities against the state. They were convicted and they had confessed to their crimes, and their role in smuggling explosives into the country had been proven," Hamidi told IRNA.

Reports on the number of casualties varied in Iranian reports. Some local agencies said more than 20 people were killed and 125 were wounded in the bombing.

He said the three had been arrested a few days before the actual bombing and their role in bringing in the explosives had been proven. The judiciary spokesman in Zahedan added: "Immediately after the mosque explosion, the cases of the three men were referred to a team from the judiciary who spent thirty hours investigating it. The three men were convicted of the charges after the due process of the law, including a state-appointed lawyer to defend them, was observed and the defendants were found guilty of all charges."

The spokesman added that the three men had been accused of several other crimes, including direct participation in a bus bombing three years ago in Zahedan and at least two other bombings, IRNA said.

Hamidi said that the three men had also been involved in four hostage taking incidents, had planned eight other hostage taking and terrorist operations that had been discovered by the police before they could be carried out.

"This file is not closed yet. They (men) were only a part of this plot, more culprits will be identified and punished in the near future," the judiciary spokesman said.

Hamidi said: "The enemy is now trying to sow dissension among the various tribes and sects and are trying to flame the fires through terrorist acts. While the country is preparing for the 10th presidential elections, the hand of world's arrogant powers is coming out through the sleeves of a bunch of traitors who ignore even the sanctity of mosques."

IRNA said Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei, condemned the bombing and sent a message of sympathy to the victims' relatives.

"In his statement, he condemned the involvement of certain expansionist superpowers and their spying organizations in the plots against Muslim nations and between the followers of Islam's different sects and causing bloodshed among Muslim brothers in Iran and other regional countries," IRNA reported.

Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami, a hard-line cleric, also said there were signs that the United States and Israel were involved in the mosque bombing, IRNA reported.

The United States denied the allegations.

"The U.S. strongly condemns all forms of terrorism. We do not sponsor any form of terrorism in Iran. And we continue to work with the international community to try to prevent any attacks against innocent civilians anywhere," State Department spokesman Ian Kelly told reporters in a Friday briefing.

CNN's Shirzad Bozorghmehr contributed to this report.

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