Iran General NewsIranian Sunni militant leader, reported dead, appears in video

Iranian Sunni militant leader, reported dead, appears in video

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AFP: An Iranian Sunni militant leader reported by Iranian authorities to have been killed in an anti-terrorist operation appeared in a video shown by the Al-Arabiya television station late Tuesday. DUBAI, April 12, 2006 (AFP) – An Iranian Sunni militant leader reported by Iranian authorities to have been killed in an anti-terrorist operation appeared in a video shown by the Al-Arabiya television station late Tuesday.

Abdolmalek Rigi, leader of the Jundullah (Soldiers of God) militant outfit, appeared in the video to “deny the information from the Iranian security forces that they had killed him several days ago”, the presenter said.

The tape showed a bearded man dressed in white talking to the camera but his words were obscured by the presenter’s voice-over.

Another man with his face covered, described as a “spokesman” for the militant group, said the information on Rigi’s death was “lies” designed to “play with the feelings of the population of Baluchistan and Iran”.

The hardline Kayhan daily in Iran quoted an unidentified source in the interior ministry as saying on April 6 that Rigi and 11 members of his group had been killed “in an operation on the border with Afghanistan”.

The group had reportedly carried out an ambush in the southeastern province of Sistan-Baluchistan in March that killed 26 people with another 12 reported missing, according to Kayhan.

In January, the group claimed the execution of one of nine Iranian soldiers it had kidnapped along the Pakistani border a month earlier. The government said later that the other soldiers had been freed.

The mostly Sunni Muslim province of Sistan-Baluchistan, in predominantly Shiite Iran, is notoriously lawless.

It is a key transit route for opium and other drugs from Afghanistan and Pakistan headed for Europe and the Gulf.

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