Iranian Minister Shot Dead in Tehran

(Reuters) -

An unidentified attacker shot dead an Iranian deputy minister of industry in Tehran on Sunday, the state news agency IRNA reported, in what appeared to be the first reported killing of a senior central government official in years.

Safdar Rahmat Abadi was shot in the head and chest as he got into his car in the east of the capital, IRNA said, quoting witnesses as saying the attack occurred at about 7:50 p.m.

“Investigations show that two shots were fired from inside the vehicle,” the agency quoted a police official as saying.

“That two shells were found inside the car shows a strong likelihood that the assailant was inside the car and in conversation with Mr. Abadi. There was no sign of struggle at the scene of the killing.”

The student news agency ISNA said a special homicide investigator and criminal prosecutor were at the scene. It cited a judiciary source as saying no arrests had yet been made.

There has been a surge of attacks against Iranian military and provincial officials in recent weeks.

Iranian Sunni Islamists claimed responsibility for the killing of an Iranian prosecutor in Sistan Baluchistan province last week.

They said it was revenge for the hanging of 16 prisoners carried out by judiciary officials after an attack by the Jaish ul-Adl group of Sunni Islamist militants in which 14 border guards were killed.

In Washington, a State Department spokesman said of Abadi’s killing: “We’ve seen the media reports and have no further information or comment at this time.”