Iran arrests "UK-linked terrorists": report

TEHRAN Thu Nov 4, 2010 9:16am EDT

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TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iranian authorities have arrested four people they say were paid by a Kurdish militant based in Britain to carry out assassinations, state-run Press TV reported on Thursday.

"Iran's Intelligence Ministry says it has arrested four Britain-linked terrorists in the western city of Marivan, who carried out five assassinations in the last two years," the English language TV channel said on its website.

The report said the men were paid by a commander of Komala, an Iranian Kurdish group it described as a "terrorist" organization which it said had carried out assassinations in western Iran since the Islamic Revolution in 1979.

It said the men were all members of Komala and received weapons and cash on the Iran-Iraq border to carry out their attacks. It did not say who were their victims.

Kurds are an ethnic group with no state of their own who make up large minorities in Iran, Iraq, Turkey, and Syria.

Iranian forces sometimes clash with Kurdish guerrillas who operate out of bases in northern Iraq.

The news came on the day Iranians commemorate the seizure of the U.S. embassy in Tehran after the 1979 revolution which has come to symbolize the Islamic Republic's resistance to what they see as Western aggression. The embassy building is referred to as the "Den of Espionage."

The Press TV report played up the UK link, saying that Britain "funded and supported certain terrorist groups against the Islamic Republic."

Unlike the United States, Britain still has diplomatic relations with Iran.

The head of Britain's Secret Intelligence Service, John Sawers, said in a speech last week that "intelligence-led operations" were needed to prevent Iran getting a nuclear bomb, a comment interpreted in Tehran as proof that Britain was using subterfuge against the government.

(Reporting by Hashem Kalantari; Writing by Robin Pomeroy)

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