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Nine die in Iran bombing

The New York Times reported Saturday a bomb went off in a mosque in the southern Iranian city of Shiraz, which killed nine people, according to Fars news agency.

Around 9 p.m. a bomb exploded at the Shohada mosque while the city’s Friday Prayer leader gave a talk about Wahhabi faith, a austere version of Sunni Islam and Bahaism. The religion is condemned by the Iranian government, the news agency reported.

Many were wounded and in critical condition after the bomb went off in the men’s section, the news agency added.

Bombings are rare in Iran because the government harshly punishes those involved in severe attacks. Iran is predominately a Shiite country and most bombings are done by Iranian Sunni militants.

The Los Angeles Times reported the blast damaged buildings a mile away and city hospitals were flooded with wounded civilians. No one had claimed responsibility for the attack, Iranian authorities said.

The area is known to have a mix of Sunni and Shiite Arabs and both have rebelled in the past. Between 2005 to 2006, Arab separatists set off about a dozen bombs, killing almost 26 people and injuring more than 200.

"There are numerous ethnic and/or religious minority groups within Iran and in neighboring countries with grievances against Iran's fundamentalist clergy," Karim Sadjadpour, an Iran expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, said. "Whomever the true culprits, the authorities in Tehran will likely claim that they were acting in concert with the United States and Israel." (Los Angeles Times)

The blast is still under investigation, but authorities said the blast was not a bombing and did not give any other alternatives.