LONDON, June 7 Suicide bombers and gunmen
attacked the Iranian parliament and the mausoleum of Ayatollah
Khomeini in Tehran on Wednesday, killing at least 12 people in a
twin assault which Iran's Revolutionary Guards blamed on
regional rival Saudi Arabia.
Islamic State said it was responsible, the first time the
hardline Sunni Muslim militant group has claimed attacks in the
tightly controlled Shi'ite Muslim country.
But other Sunni militant groups in Iran have long carried
out periodic attacks on military and civilian targets, aiming to
highlight what they say is discrimination against Iran's Arab
minority and Sunni ethnic groups.
Iran has stepped up its crackdown against members of such
networks in recent years, with mass arrests and death sentences.
The Arab minorities who mainly live in Iran's oil-rich
southwestern Khuzestan province, and Sunni Baluchis in poor
Sistan-Baluchestan in the country's southeast, say they are
deprived of decent living standards and some civil rights.
The main Sunni Iranian separatist groups increasingly see
themselves as part of a larger struggle between Shi'ite Iran and
the Sunni-ruled Arab states across the Gulf, which back opposing
sides in the Syrian civil war, Iraq and Yemen.
Tehran claims Saudi Arabia is funding most of these groups,
a charge Riyadh denies. Below is the list of main Sunni militant
groups in Iran:
Jaish al-Adl (or the Army of Justice) is a Sunni militant
group that has carried out several attacks on Iranian security
forces mainly in Sistan-Baluchestan.
Jaish al-Adl claimed responsibility in April for attacks
that killed 10 Iranian border guards near Pakistan.
Iran says the group has safe havens in Pakistan and has
warned it will hit their bases there if Islamabad does not
Jundullah (or Soldiers of God), a Sunni separatist group,
has claimed responsibility for bombings in the last decade that
have killed scores of Iranians, including senior commanders of
the Revolutionary Guards.
The group, which also has bases in Pakistan, is believed to
be significantly weakened after its leader Abdolmalek Rigi was
captured and executed by Iran in 2010.
Jundullah also targets Pakistan's minority Shi'ite community
and pledged allegiance to Islamic State in 2014.
Ansar al-Furqan (or Partisans of the Criterion) is a
Baluchestan-based Sunni jihadi group that has threatened to
carry out suicide attacks on Iranian economic and military
centres in revenge for the government executing Sunni prisoners.
The group was formed when Sunni Baloch insurgent group
Harakat Ansar Iran (Movement of the Partisans of Iran), active
in Sistan-Baluchestan since 2012, merged with another local
Sunni group, Hizbul-Furqan, in 2013.
The move aimed to strengthen their fight against Tehran's
MOVEMENT FOR LIBERATION OF AHWAZ
The Mohiuddin al Nasser Martyrs Brigade, the armed wing of
the Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahwaz (ASMLA)
has claimed responsibility for several attacks in Iran.
The group killed two members of the Revolutionary Guards in
January in Khuzestan province.
The group has also claimed it has blown up several oil
pipelines in Khuzestan in recent years.
Ahvazi Arabs are a minority in mainly ethnic Persian Iran,
and some see themselves as under Persian occupation and want
independence or autonomy.
(Reporting by Bozorgmehr Sharafedin; Editing by William Maclean
and Catherine Evans)