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World News

Factbox: Armed Iranian opposition groups

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was unharmed when a homemade explosive device went off near his motorcade during a visit to the western city of Hamadan on Wednesday, a source in his office said.

The cause of the attack was not immediately clear with some media saying a hand grenade was thrown and state media saying it was a firecracker.

Here are details of some armed militant groups opposed to Iran’s government.

* JUNDOLLAH:

-- The Sunni Muslim rebel group Jundollah said it had carried out a double suicide attack that killed at least 28 people, including Revolutionary Guards, in southeastern Iran on July 15 in revenge for the execution of its leader.

-- Iran, which is officially Shi’ite, has linked Jundollah (God’s Soldiers) to the Sunni Islamist al Qaeda network. It also accuses the United States of backing Jundollah to create instability in the country. Washington has denied the charge.

-- Jundollah says it is fighting for the rights of Iran’s minority Sunnis. Iran rejects allegations by rights groups that it discriminates against ethnic and religious minorities.

-- Jundollah, which also calls itself the Iranian People’s Resistance Movement, was founded in 2002 and launched its armed campaign in 2005.

-- Since early 2005 the group has sought to expand operations in Iran’s southeastern province of Sistan-Baluchestan. It has carried out kidnappings and, more recently, suicide attacks.

* THE PEOPLE’S MUJAHIDEEN Organization OF IRAN (PMOI)

-- Also known as the Mujahideen Khalq Organization (MKO), the PMOI is the main faction within the exiled opposition coalition, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI).

-- The PMOI, which has had bases in Iraq since the 1980s, began as a group of Islamist leftists opposed to Iran’s late shah but fell out with Shi’ite clerics who took power after the 1979 revolution. The armed guerrilla movement is listed as a terrorist group by the United States.

-- The PMOI initially was listed as a foreign terrorist group in 1997. However in 2008, it asked for removal of the designation, saying it ceased its military campaign against the Iranian government in 2001. In July 2010 a U.S. appeals court ruled that the State Department must review its designation.

-- The NCRI in 2002 exposed Iran’s uranium enrichment facility at Natanz and a heavy water plant at Arak, which the West has said are key elements in Iran’s plan to build nuclear weapons. Tehran denies having any such ambitions.

* PJAK:

-- The Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK) is an offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) which took up arms in 1984 for an ethnic homeland in southeast Turkey. Iran sees PJAK, which seeks autonomy for Kurdish areas in Iran and shelters in Iraq’s northeastern border provinces, as a terrorist group.

-- In early June, Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan region said Iran had been shelling the border region for more than a week in pursuit of PJAK guerrillas. Iran denied the claim.

-- Iran has a large Kurdish minority, mainly living in the Islamic Republic’s northwest and west. The U.S. in February 2009 also branded PJAK a terrorist Organization.

-- In May, Iran hanged five members of the group for various charges, including “moharebe” or waging war against God, the official IRNA news agency reported. IRNA said three of them were founders of PJAK in Iran in 2003 and were also involved in bombings that killed members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards.

Sources: Reuters/Janes World Insurgency/ U.S. State Dept./www.fas.org/

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