Iran points finger at Israel after top nuclear scientist assassinated

  • Video report by ITV News Global Security Editor, Rohit Kachroo

A top Iranian nuclear scientist has been assassinated in a targeted attack that saw gunmen use explosives and machine guns on Friday.

Iran’s foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif alleged the killing of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh bore “serious indications” Israel was involved in the attack, but did not elaborate.

Israel has yet to comment but Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu once called out Fakhrizadeh in a news conference saying: “Remember that name.”

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Israel has long been suspected of carrying out a series of targeted killings of Iranian nuclear scientists nearly a decade ago.

The nation once alleged led Mr Fakhizadeh Islamic Republic’s military nuclear program until its disbanding in the early 2000s.

Mohsen Fakhrizadeh (right) Credit: AP

Iranian State TV said Mr Fakhrizadeh was attacked by “armed terrorist elements.”

He died at a local hospital after doctors and paramedics couldn’t revive him.

The semiofficial Fars news agency, believed to be close to the country’s Revolutionary Guard, said the attack happened in Absard, a small city just east of the capital, Tehran.

It said witnesses heard the sound of an explosion and then machine gunfire.

The attack targeted a car that Mr Fakhrizadeh was in, the agency said.

The scene where Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was killed. Credit: AP

Others wounded, including Fakhrizadeh’s bodyguards, also were taken to a local hospital, the agency said.

State television on its website later published a photograph of security forces blocking off the road.

Photos and video shared online showed a Nissan sedan with bullet holes in the windshield and blood pooled on the road.

Mr Zarif wrote on Twitter: “Terrorists murdered an eminent Iranian scientist today. This cowardice—with serious indications of Israeli role—shows desperate warmongering of perpetrators.”

Hossein Salami, chief commander of the paramilitary Guard, appeared to acknowledge the attack on Fakhrizadeh.

“Assassinating nuclear scientists is the most violent confrontation to prevent us from reaching modern science,” Mr Salami tweeted.

It comes as tension in the Middle East remains at a critical level after US President Donald Trump ordered the assassination of Qasem Soleimani a top Iranian military commander in January.

It comes just as President-elect Joe Biden stands poised to be inaugurated in January and likely complicates his efforts to return America to the Iran nuclear deal.