Iran city prosecutor assassinated: report

TEHRAN Mon Jan 18, 2010 2:22pm EST

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TEHRAN (Reuters) - The prosecutor of a northwestern Iranian city was assassinated on Monday night, Iranian media reported.

The official IRNA news agency quoted a police official as saying the prosecutor, Vali Haji Gholizadeh, was shot dead in front of his home on Monday night.

"A special unit has been formed to identify those behind this assassination," the police officer said.

Haji Gholizadeh was the prosecutor of Khoy city, with a population of around 180,000 people in Iran's West Azerbaijan province which borders Turkey and Iraq.

Western and northwestern Iran is home to large Kurdish and Azeri minorities. These border areas are scenes of sporadic clashes between security forces and armed rebels.

The assassination came six days after a remote-controlled bomb killed a university scientist in Tehran. Such incidents are relatively rare in Iran, which borders volatile Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq.

Iranian officials have described the slain professor as a nuclear scientist, but a spokesman said he did not work for the Atomic Energy Organization at the center of the Islamic Republic's disputed nuclear program.

Iranian officials have blamed the United States and Israel for the bombing attack that killed the Tehran University Professor, Massoud Ali-Mohammadi. The United States dismissed the allegation of U.S. involvement as absurd.

Iran's Interior Minister Mostafa Mohammad-Najjar said Iran would take revenge on its arch-foes Israel and the United States for the killing of the scientist.

State media described Ali-Mohammadi as a "committed and revolutionary" professor, suggesting he backed the government.

But opposition websites said he was a supporter of opposition leader Mirhossein Mousavi in last June's disputed election, which plunged Iran into turmoil.

(Editing by Peter Millership)

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