Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, an Iranian scientist who, Israel alleged, led the Islamic Republic’s military nuclear programme until its disbanding in the early 2000s has been “assassinated”, state television reported.
“Unfortunately, the medical team did not succeed in reviving him, and a few minutes ago, this manager and scientist achieved the high status of martyrdom after years of effort and struggle,” a statement by Iran’s armed forces carried by state media said on Friday.
Israel declined to immediately comment on the killing of Fakhrizadeh, whom Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu once called out in a news conference saying: “Remember that name.”
The semiofficial Fars news agency, believed to be close to the country’s Revolutionary Guard, said the attack happened in Absard, a small city just east of the capital, Tehran.
It said witnesses heard the sound of an explosion and then machine gun fire. The attack targeted a car that Fakhrizadeh was in, the agency said.
Those wounded, including Fakhrizadeh’s bodyguards, were later taken to a local hospital, the agency said.
State television on its website later published a photograph of security forces blocking off the road. Photos and video shared online showed a Nissan sedan with bullet holes through windshield and blood pooled on the road.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.
Iran’s foreign minister is alleging the killing Fakhrizadeh has “serious indications” of an Israeli role.
“Terrorists murdered an eminent Iranian scientist today. This cowardice – with serious indications of Israeli role – shows desperate warmongering of perpetrators,” Mohammad Javad Zarif wrote on Twitter on Friday.
Israel has long been suspected of carrying out a series of targeted killings of Iranian nuclear scientists nearly 10 years ago.
Iranian Defence Minister Brigadier General Amir Hatami tweeted on Friday that the assassination displayed “the depth of enemies’ hatred” towards the Islamic Republic.
Fakhrizadeh led Iran’s so-called Amad (Hope) programme. Israel and the West have alleged it was a military operation looking at the feasibility of building a nuclear weapon in Iran. Tehran has long maintained its nuclear programme is peaceful.
The International Atomic Energy Agency says that the Amad programme ended in the early 2000s. Its inspectors now monitor Iranian nuclear sites.
.SOURCE : NEWS AGENCIES