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Saturday, 25 March, 2000, 23:23 GMT
Ten held over reformist's shooting
Saeed Hajjarian in hospital
Saeed Hajjarian is recovering in hospital
Iranian police have arrested 10 suspects in the shooting of a top reformist, Intelligence Minister Ali Yunesi has said.

He said one of the suspects in the attempt earlier this month to assassinate Saeed Hajjarian, an ally of President Mohammad Khatami, was on the technical staff of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps.

But the suspect was "deceived" into joining the others, Mr Yunesi told a news conference.

"These people do not have any affiliation to any organisation or any faction in Iran," he added.



Mr Hajjarian is one of President Khatami's allies
The minister described the suspects as extremist elements with private, adventurist motives.

Reformist newspapers and Mr Hajjarian's allies have blamed hard-line conservatives for the attempt to kill Mr Hajjarian, a Tehran city councillor and a publisher of a leading reformist daily newspaper.

Obstacles

The Islamic Iran Participation Front, run by one of President Khatami's brothers, said on Wednesday that hardliners in a security body were trying to cover up the truth.

Mr Yunesi denied the charges, saying that "the intelligence ministry is doing its job without any obstacles. I assure you that we will firmly try to discover the roots of this plot".

Mr Hajjarian, who was shot in the face by a gunman on a motorcycle, is recovering in hospital with a bullet lodged in his neck.

Mr Yunesi said a chemistry student - identified earlier as Saeed Asgar - and a staff member of Tehran University were among the suspects. Saeed Asgar is said to be the owner of the motorbike used in the attack.

Most suspects were unemployed, the intelligence minister added.

Mr Yunesi did not give a motive for the attack or other details on the suspects.

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See also:

12 Mar 00 | Middle East
Analysis: Who wanted Hajjarian dead?
12 Mar 00 | Middle East
Leading reformer shot in Iran
11 Mar 00 | Middle East
Reformist victories cancelled in Iran
21 Feb 00 | Middle East
Analysis: Obstacles to change
22 Feb 00 | Middle East
Iran vote welcomed
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