Unidentified gunmen on motorbikes killed a senior member of Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard outside his home in Tehran.
The body gave few details about the killing, which happened in broad daylight in the heart of the Iranian capital, but blamed it on ‘global arrogance’ – usually code for the US and Israel.
The accusation and style of the attack raised the possibility of a link to other motorcycle killings previously attributed to Israel, such as those targeting the country’s nuclear scientists.
Two assailants fired five shots at Colonel Hassan Sayad Khodayari from his Iranian-made unarmored vehicle just off a heavily-secured street that houses Iran’s parliament, state media said.
Reports identified Khodayari only as a ‘sanctuary defender’, a reference to fighters against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq from the Revolutionary Guards’ elite Al-Quds force which oversees overseas operations .
Little information was publicly available on Khodayari, but Quds officers tended to carry out covert military missions supporting Hezbollah, the Lebanese militant group and political party, and militias in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere.
The Tehran prosecutor arrived at the scene of the crime within hours to investigate and asked the police to arrest the perpetrators urgently. The rapidity of developments suggests that Khodayari may have been a prominent Quds figure.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack. State television reported that security forces were pursuing the alleged attackers without giving further details or giving a motive for the killing.
State media also said around the same time that the Revolutionary Guard security forces had discovered and arrested members of an Israeli intelligence network operating in the country.