Suicide bomb kills 27 Iranian Revolutionary Guard, state media says

At least 27 elite Iranian Revolutionary Guard were killed in a suicide car bombing on Wednesday night, according to state media, in the second major attack inside Iran within six months.   

The explosion came as the US, Israel, and Gulf Arab states gathered for a major Middle East summit in Poland which was widely seen as anti-Iran gathering. 

The Revolutionary Guard said a suicide bomber had rammed an explosive-laden car into a coach carrying Guardsmen as it drove through the volatile southeastern province of Sistan-Baluchistan. 

Media reports claimed at least 10 more people in nearby passenger cars were also killed.

The Army of Justice, a Sunni jihadist group based in the province, claimed responsibility for the attack, state media reported.  The blast came days after the Islamic Republic celebrated the 40th anniversary of the 1979 Revolution. 

The Revolutionary Guard blamed “Takfiri terrorists and mercenaries at the service of foreign intelligence agencies of the world’s arrogant powers”. Iran, which is majority Shia, uses the term Takfiri to describe Sunni extremists. 

Tehran has in the past accused Saudi Arabia of funding the Army of Justice, an accusation which the kingdom denies. 

Tansim, a news agency linked to the Guard, said at least 27 people were killed and many more wounded in the blast. Pictures from the scene show the bus was torn apart by the explosion.  

The attack comes months after a shooting at a military parade in Ahvaz in September which left 25 people dead. That attack was claimed by both Arab separatists hoping to form an independent state from Iran and by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil). 

Mike Pence, the US vice president and Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, are attending along with ministers from the Gulf Arab states opposed to Iran.

European states who support the Iran deal have been less enthusiastic. France and Germany both sent junior representatives while Federica Mogherini, the EU foreign policy chief, stayed away.  

US officials stressed the summit was not meant to be anti-Iranian but Mr Netanyahu somewhat undermined that claim by declaring “the focus is Iran”.   

Iran condemned the event as “irresponsible and destructive” while Russia, Turkey, and Qatar all snubbed it.

Poland agreed to host the controversial summit as it lobbies Washington to increase the number of US troops on Polish soil as a deterrent against Russia. There are currently around 3,000 US troops in the country on different missions, including Nato deployments.

Jeremy Hunt, the foreign secretary, attended the opening of the summit, partly as a chance to convene of meeting of the UK, US, Saudi Arabia and the UAE on the crisis in Yemen.

He said Yemen may finally be “on the path to peace” after five years of brutal war if the two sides follow through on agreements reached at UN-brokered talks last year.  

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