In Brief

How Iran’s top nuclear scientist was killed with remote-controlled machine gun

Iranian media says Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was shot by weapon mounted on car that then exploded

A remote-controlled machine gun was used to kill Iran’s leading nuclear scientist in an assassination that Tehran has blamed on Israel, according to latest reports.

Mohsen Fakhrizadeh - dubbed the “father” of Iran’s bomb programme - was travelling with his wife in a bullet-proof car, accompanied by a convoy of armoured vehicles, when they came under gunfire on Friday in the city of Absard, 50 miles east of the capital.

Accounts of the attack are conflicting, with the Daily Mail reporting that Fakhrizadeh “was shot dead in his car by 12 highly-trained assassins” after his convoy was forced to stop when a nearby parked car exploded as they approached a roundabout.  

But Iran’s semi-official Fars News Agency is claiming that Fakhrizadeh was killed by a remote-controlled machine gun mounted on a Nissan parked about 150 metres away, after he pulled over and exited his own vehicle to investigate sounds of gunfire.

Fakhrizadeh is reported to have been “hit at least three times”, and “his bodyguard was also shot”, before the Nissan exploded, says CNN.

The killing has “has once more heightened tensions between Tehran and its foes, with Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, accusing Israel of acting as Washington’s ‘mercenary’” by masterminding the attack, The Guardian reports.

The assassination is widely viewed as a bid to hobble efforts by US President-elect Joe Biden to revive the 2015 Iran Nuclear Deal, “a move that Jerusalem staunchly opposes”, adds The Times of Israel.

Pledging revenge for the attack, Iran’s Major General Hossein Dehghan - military adviser to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei - warned on Saturday that Tehran would “descend like lightning” on “Zionists” seeking “to intensify and increase pressure on Iran to wage a full-blown war”.

Although Jerusalem has not officially taken responsibility for the assassination, an unnamed Israeli official told The New York Times yesterday that “the world should thank Israel” for getting rid of the nuclear menace posed by Fakhrizadeh, who led research for Iran’s Ministry of Defence.

His body is being interred at Tehran’s Imam Khomeini shrine today following a state funeral procession.

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