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Iran hangs members of rebel group

IRAN hanged 13 members of a Sunni rebel group yesterday for killings and attacks in a volatile southeastern area, but they were put to death in prison and not in public as initially planned, official media reported.

The execution of a 14th member of Jundollah (God's soldiers), a brother of its leader Abdolmalek Rigi, was postponed for a few days in order to get more information from him, the judiciary said.

Predominantly Shiite Muslim Iran says Jundollah is part of the Sunni Islamist al-Qaida network and backed by the United States.

Jundollah says it fights for the rights of the Islamic Republic's minority Sunni population.

The hangings took place in the capital of Sistan-Baluchestan province, Zahedan, where a bomb attack on a Shiite mosque killed 25 people in late May.

A few days later clashes broke out between supporters and opponents of a Sunni cleric in the city.

Sectarian violence is relatively rare in Iran, whose leaders reject allegations by Western rights groups that the country discriminates against ethnic and religious minorities.

Those executed were convicted as "mohareb", or one who is waging war against God, for crimes including murder, kidnappings and attacks on police, the official IRNA news agency said.

"This morning the executions of some members of the Jundollah terrorist group ... were carried out in prison," provincial judiciary chief Ebrahim Hamidi told Fars news agency.

IRNA quoted a court as saying 13 people were put to death.


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