Middle East

Iranian deputy industry minister shot dead

A map of Iran showing Tehran

An unknown attacker has shot dead Iran's deputy industry minister.

Safdar Rahmatabadi was driving in Tehran's Sabalan Square late on Sunday when he was shot once in the head and once in the chest, the state news agency IRNA reported.

A police officer told the agency that the attacker appeared to have been inside Mr Rahmatabadi's vehicle and spoke to him before opening fire.

There was no speculation as to why the deputy minister was targeted.

Police said they had begun an investigation. No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.

Assassinations of officials are not unheard of in Iran, in particular scientists connected with the country's nuclear programme. In January 2012 a car bomb killed university lecturer Mostafa Ahmadi-Roshan, who also worked at the Natanz uranium enrichment facility.

Low profile official

Earlier in November a public prosecutor and his driver were killed in the restive frontier province of Sistan Baluchistan, which borders Afghanistan and Pakistan.

However, Mr Rahmatabadi, whose portfolio also included mining and commerce, was seen as a low-profile official. He served in a similar role under the country's previous President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The shooting comes as Iran, under newly-elected President Hassan Rouhani, engages in talks with six world powers on its nuclear programme. Tehran maintains it is enriching uranium for civilian uses but Western countries have long suspected Iran of a secret nuclear weapons programme.

Peace talks in Geneva have centred on a proposal to freeze the expansion of Iran's nuclear programme in exchange for relief from tough international sanctions.

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