Iran executes 2 for alleged role in deadly mosque bombing

The men were accused of being members of an outlawed monarchist group. The Islamic Republic also sentences nine to death for participating in 'counterrevolutionary' protests.

Reporting from Beirut

Iran executed two men today and sentenced nine people described as political protesters to death as "enemies of God," in an apparent attempt to intimidate a widespread protest movement challenging the nation's hard-line establishment.

Mohammad-Ali Zamani and Arash Rahmanipour were hanged before dawn for their alleged role in the deadly April 2008 bombing of a mosque in the southern city of Shiraz, the Iranian Students News Agency reported, citing a statement by the Tehran prosecutor's office. The bombing killed 13 people and left 200 wounded.

They were also accused of being members of a small, outlawed monarchist group called the Kingdom Assembly.

The nine people convicted of being mohareb, or enemies of God, are accused of taking part in "counterrevolutionary and norm-breaking acts and rioting" in recent months and on the Dec. 27 Shiite Muslim religious holiday, Ashura, when protesters and security forces clashed on the streets of Iranian cities.

Iran is in the grip of its greatest domestic political crisis in decades, triggered by the disputed June 2009 reelection of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The death row inmates are accused of plotting to overthrow the Islamic Republic and being members of the Kingdom Assembly or the Mujahedin Khalq, an outlawed Iranian militant group listed as a terrorist organization by the United States.

The news agency said an appeals court is reviewing the death sentences, which come as the government and opposition ready themselves for another round of possible confrontations during Feb. 11 marches marking the 31st anniversary of the Islamic Republic.

Protesters have vowed to turn the annual march into an anti-government rally.

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