06/29/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Iran Official Blames Mosque Explosion On US

Following the explosion that ripped through a Shiite Muslim mosque in south-eastern Iran and killed over 20 people Thursday, one Iranian official is publicly accusing the United States of being involved. According to Reuters, Jalal Sayyah, the Deputy Governor of Sistan-Baluchestan province, where the explosion occurred, told a semi-official state radio station that, "The terrorists, who were equipped by America in one of our neighbouring countries, carried out this criminal act in their efforts to create religious conflict and fear and to influence the presidential election....It has been confirmed that those behind the terrorist act in Zahedan were hired by America and the arrogance's other hands."

Also snatching up the accusation banner is Tehran's Substitute Friday Prayers Leader Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami (not to be confused with reformist former president Seyyed Mohammad Khatami), who told a large congregation at Tehran University that "discernible" clues exist to implicate the US and Israel in the explosion, Albawaba reports.

Suspects behind the explosion were quickly arrested by provincial police Thursday, who provided no further details, according to DPA News.

According to the Reuters report:

Defence analyst Paul Beaver said it was "highly unlikely" that the U.S. administration of President Barack Obama, who is seeking to engage Tehran diplomatically after three decades of mutual mistrust, would support Sunni insurgents in Iran.

He said history had shown that backing guerrilla groups to effect regime change was "ineffectual and wrong, and the present U.S. administration does not want to be tarnished in that way."

The US, through State Department spokesman Ian Kelly Friday, condemned the attacks and denied any involvement, AFP reports.

The Sistan-Baluchestan province where the explosion occurred is known for past clashes between provincial authorities and bandits, as it borders both Afghanistan and Pakistan and is a highly-trafficked narcotics thoroughfare, according to DPA News.

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