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Iran: Bodyguard killed in attack on car carrying Revolutionary Guards general

Brigadier General Hossein Almassi unhurt in attack in southeastern province of Sistan-Balochistan
The attack coincided with events marking the anniversary of the IRGC's establishment after the 1979 Islamic revolution (AFP)

Gunmen opened fire on a car carrying a senior Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp (IRGC) commander in restive southeastern Iran early on Saturday, killing a bodyguard, state media reported.

Brigadier General Hossein Almassi, a commander in Sistan-Balochistan province, was unhurt after the attack and the attackers were arrested, the official news agency IRNA reported.

Mahmoud Absalan, the bodyguard who was killed in the attack that occurred near a checkpoint in the provincial capital Zahedan, was identified as the son of General Parviz Absalan, another senior IRGC commander in the region.

The attack came on a night celebrated by many devout Iranians as Islam's holiest, which this year coincided with events marking the anniversary of the IRGC's establishment after the 1979 Islamic revolution.

The predominantly Sunni Sistan-Balochistan province, located near the Pakistani and Afghan borders, has long been plagued by unrest from both drug smuggling gangs and Sunni fighters battling the country's Shia authorities.

Many of Iran's Sunnis complain of discrimination, a charge denied by the state.

In 2009, a suicide bomber killed six senior IRGC commanders and more than 29 other people in Sistan-Baluchistan, in one of the boldest attacks on Iran's most powerful military institutions.