The United States is strongly condemning suicide bomb attacks Thursday against a Shi'ite mosque in Iran, a country that is listed by Washington as a state sponsor of terrorism. President Barack Obama called the murder of innocent civilians in a place of worship an "intolerable offense."
American condemnation of acts of terrorism in Iran is not unprecedented. But the U.S. reaction to Thursday's attack was at an unusually high level, with both President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton issuing written statements expressing sympathy to the families of victims and calling for the attackers to be held accountable.
Iranian officials say at least 27 people were killed and some 270 wounded in twin suicide bomb attacks at a mosque in Zahedan in Sistan-Baluchistan province, where worshippers had gathered to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad's grandson, Imam Hussein.
The victims included members of Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps. Responsibility was claimed by the Sunni Muslim militant group Jundallah, which said it staged the attacks to avenge the execution in June of the group's leader for terrorism.
Iran has accused the United States and Britain of funding Jundallah, which it says is based in Pakistan, but all three countries deny aiding the group.
In his statement, President Obama said the terrorist attacks were outrageous and said the United States stands with the families of the victims and with the people of Iran in the face of what he termed "this injustice."
Secretary Clinton called the bombings "appalling acts" and said they, along with other recent attacks in Uganda, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq and Algeria underscore the world community's need to work together to combat terrorist organizations.
State Department Spokesman P.J. Crowley said the statements show the United States condemns all forms of terrorist and sectarian-driven violence wherever it occurs.
"We are actively combating terrorism in all its forms all over the world," he said. "We are seeking cooperation from all countries around the world including Iran, which is a state sponsor of terrorism itself. So we are determined to work as we can with countries from around the world to reduce the threat of terrorism to all innocent civilians anywhere in the world."
The United States and Iran have not had diplomatic relations since after Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution, but diplomats of the two countries have occasionally met at international gatherings.
Both Secretary of State Clinton and Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki are expected to attend the Kabul conference early next week aimed at bolstering the Afghan government. However spokesman Crowley said interaction between Clinton and her Iranian counterpart in Kabul is doubtful.