x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Iran arrests four 'assassins' allegedly linked to UK

Four were paid by a Kurdish militant based in Britain to carry out killings, country's state-run Press TV alleges.

TEHRAN // Iranian authorities have arrested four people they say were paid by a Kurdish militant based in Britain to carry out assassinations.

Majid Bakhtiar, Hajeer Ebrahimi, Loqman Moradi and Zanyar Moradi who are allegedly members of the banned Komala group, an Iranian Kurdish party that a report on the state-run Press TV described as a terrorist group, were arrested in the western city of Marivan, the channel said on its website.

It said the five are accused of carrying out five assassinations in Iran in the past two years.

"They have confessed to getting orders in the Iraqi city of Sulaimaniyah from their commander Jalil Fattahi," who is residing in Britain, it said, adding that documents and weapons were confiscated from them.

The report described Fattahi as "one of the commanders of the Komala terrorist group which has been perpetuating several assassinations in the western cities of Iran since the Islamic revolution in 1979."

The four men claimed "they were originally promised 20,000 US dollars for each murder, but they only received 8,000 dollars after accomplishing the mission," the report said.

Iran claims the men were based in northern Iraq and received orders from a Komala commander going by the name of Jalil Fattahi, who lives in Britain.

In early September, Iranian security forces killed four members of Komala in the Iranian province of Kordestan.

Western Iran, which has a sizeable Kurdish population, has seen deadly clashes in recent years between security forces and Kurdish rebel groups operating from bases in neighbouring Iraq.

In May, Iran hanged four Kurds, including a woman, after convicting them of belonging to another outlawed Kurdish group, the Party of Free Life of Kurdistan

Violence has increased recently in Iran's western Kurdish region. In September, a bombing killed 12 people at a military parade in the Kurdish city of Mahabad.

The news comes on the day Iranians commemorate the seizure of the US embassy in Tehran after the 1979 revolution which has come to symbolise the Islamic Republic's resistance to western aggression. The embassy building is referred to as the "Den of Espionage".