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Iran executes militant group leader

By the CNN Wire Staff
Activists hold a portrait of top Sunni militant Abdolmalek Rigi during a portrait in March.
Activists hold a portrait of top Sunni militant Abdolmalek Rigi during a portrait in March.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • State media: Leader of militant group hanged after being convicted of committing 79 crimes
  • Abdolmalek Rigi was arrested in February
  • Rigi headed Jundallah, which means "Soldiers of God"
  • Iran has blamed Jundallah for deadly bombings, abductions and targeted killings
RELATED TOPICS
  • Iran

(CNN) -- Iranian authorities have executed the leader of a Sunni militant group blamed for dozens of attacks in the country, state media said Sunday.

Abdolmalek Rigi, who headed Jundallah (Soldiers of God), was hanged after being convicted of committing 79 crimes, including armed robbery, planting bombs and attacks against police and military forces, Press TV reported.

Authorities arrested him February 23 when he was on a flight from the United Arab Emirates to Kyrgyzstan, Press TV said.

Iran has blamed Jundallah for carrying out deadly bombings, abductions and targeted killings in the southeastern Sistan-Balochistan province, which borders Pakistan. It has accused the group of trying to destabilize Iran with the backing of the West.

Jundallah claims it has no separatist aspirations but rather it wants the predominantly Shiite country to stop persecuting the Sunni Balochis who live in the province.

The province lies about 700 miles (1,100 kilometers) southeast of Tehran.

Iran said Jundallah was behind a suicide bombing in the province that killed more than 40 people -- including several members of Iran's Revolutionary Guards -- in October.

Jundallah also is blamed for a mosque attack in May that killed more than a dozen worshippers and injured at least 55 in the province.

And in 2007, a car bomb that struck a military bus in the province's capital, Zahedan, was also the work of Jundallah, Iran said.

The bomb went off as soon as the bus, which belonged to the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, arrived to pick up military personnel at a barracks. It killed at least 11 Guard members.

According to Press TV, after Rigi was arrested, the country's intelligence minister claimed that he had been at an American mlitary base 24 hours before his capture and that the United States had forged an Afghan passport for him.

Rigi pleaded guilty to the charges against him and appealed his sentence after asking for forgiveness, Press TV reported.

The appeal was rejected.

CNN's Shirzad Bozorgmehr contributed to this report.