At least 15 people were killed and more than three dozen injured when an Islamic State terrorist attacked a Shi’ite Muslim shrine in Iran Wednesday.
The massacre escalated tensions as anti-government protests rocked the nation following the death of a Kurdish woman at the hands of Iranian morality police.
ISIS later took credit for the slaughter of religious pilgrims at the Shah Cheragh shrine in Shiraz, a Muslim site that dates back to the 12th century.
An attacker shot a worker at the shrine’s entrance before his weapon jammed and he was chased by worshipers, according to the semi-official Tasnim news agency.
The terrorist then fixed his Kalashnikov rifle as he ran from the crowd and began opening fire at them in a courtyard, according to the report.
The apparent lone-wolf attacker was wounded and taken into custody by security officials. Earlier reports said police were seeking two additional suspects.
Women and two children were among the dead, according to Iran’s official news agency IRNA. The suspect had opened fire into the women’s section of the shrine during a call for prayer, a witness told state media agency Press TV.
“I heard sounds of gunfire after we prayed,” a victim said. “We went to a room next to the shrine, this lowlife came and fired a barrage of shots. Then [the bullet] hit my arm and leg, it hit my wife’s back, but thank God my child was not hit, he is 7 years old.”
President Ebrahim Raisi told state media Iran would respond to the terror attack.
“Experience shows that Iran’s enemies, after failing to create a split in the nation’s united ranks, take revenge through violence and terror,” said Raisi, before ISIS took responsibility.
“This crime will definitely not go unanswered, and the security and law-enforcement forces will teach a lesson to those who designed and carried out the attack.”
Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi blamed widespread protests marking the 40-day anniversary of the police custody death of Mahsa Amini for laying the ground for the slaughter.
At least 234 protesters, including 29 children, have been killed by security forces since Amini’s death, according to Iran Human Rights, a Norway-based group.
The bloody nationwide clashes between demonstrators and police marked one of the biggest challenges to Iran’s hardline clerical leadership since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
Protesters from all stripes of life have flooded streets to call for the downfall of the Republic and the death of the Ayatollah, escalating the security crackdown.
The terror attack in Shiraz came on the same day riot police opened fire on some 10,000 mourners who were holding a vigil at Amini’s grave in her Kurdish home town of Saqez, according to the semi-official news agency ISNA.
Internet service was cut off after the clashes, which resulted in “dozens” of arrests, according to a witness.
Meanwhile, crowds packed streets in Tehran and other cities as protestors shouted “Death to [Supreme Leader Ali] Khamenei,” video posted to social media appeared to showed.
A social media clip depicted members of the Basij militia shooting at demonstrators in the capital as other unauthenticated footage captured protestors throwing stones at security officials and setting fire to a police vehicle.
“We will fight, we will die, we will get Iran back,” protestors chanted in videos posted online.
Clerical leaders had blamed the US and other Western countries for provoking the “riots,” and said some 30 security officials had been killed.
With Post wires