IRAN began the burial of assanisated nuke scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh in a cemetery in northern Tehran today as the Islamic regime vowed to avenge the killing.
Dr Fakhrizadeh — long suspected by Western and Israeli government of masterminding a secret nuclear weapons program — was ambushed on a highway near Tehran on Friday and gunned down in his car.
Dr Fakhrizadeh was killed using a remote controlled machine gun left inside a car which then blew up, sources within the country have claimed.
Fakhrizadeh was shot at least three times by the gun, positioned in a Nissan pickup that was parked alongside the road he was travelling on, before it blew up, Iran’s Fars News Agency reported.
Iran’s clerical and military rulers have blamed the Islamic Republic’s longtime enemy, Israel, for the killing.
A hard-line Iranian newspaper run by one of the Ayatollah's advisers, called for the Israeli port city of Haifa to be attacked in retaliation — in such a way as to guarantee "heavy human casualties".
It is thought a Mossad death squad was behind the sophisticated attack and follows the assastination of several Iranian nuclear scientists since 2010.
State TV showed Fakhrizadeh’s coffin, wrapped by an Iranian flag in a ceremony at the defence ministry, where only several dozen senior military commanders and his family attended due to coronavirus precautions.
“The enemies know and I, as a soldier, tell them that no crime, no terror and no stupid act will go unanswered by the Iranian people,” said Defence Minister Brigadier General Amir Hatami in a televised speech at the ceremony.
His body was later transferred to the Emamzade Saleh cemetery in northern Tehran for burial.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office has declined to comment on the killing.
An Israeli cabinet minister, Tzachi Hanegbi, said on Saturday he did not know who carried it out.
Locals reported hearing a loud blast and sustained gunfire at about 2pm on Friday. Photos show the wreckage of his blacked-out vehicle, which was travelling in a convoy with three other vehicles, strewn across the road.
Dr Fakhrizadeh's death has embarrassed the Iranian regime 11 months after Qasem Soleimani, the leader of the Quds expeditionary force and architect of Iran's regional expansion, was killed in a US drone strike in Baghdad.
The scientist had been the target of an assassination attempt in 2008, when a hit squad on motorcycles attached explosives to his moving car.
Initial reports suggested that the latest attackers ambushed the convoy in a bomb and gun assault before vanishing. Other accounts suggested that a team of 12 was involved.
The Fars news agency, which is close to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, said that the shots initially fired at Dr Fakhrizadeh's car came from a remotely-operated machine gun mounted on a Nissan pick-up truck, which exploded with a self-destruct mechanism.
It claimed that Dr Fakhrizadeh stepped out of the car, thinking it had hit an object or that there was a problem with the engine. No one has claimed to be behind the attack but Tehran has said that it holds Israel responsible.
Ayatollah Khamenei, Iran's supreme leader, said that there would be "definitive punishment" of the perpetrators. Iran's parliament voted yesterday to increase the level at which it is enriching uranium to 20 per cent, well above the 4.5 per cent it is producing, raising the stakes in its stand-off with Israel and President Trump's administration. Israel has repeatedly claimed that Iran is trying to develop a nuclear weapon despite claims that the nuclear programme is for peaceful purposes.
It is still far from producing the 90 per cent enriched uranium used in nuclear warheads and is allowing the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency to inspect its nuclear sites.
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