AFP: The Islamist Basij militia is to start patrolling streets in urban areas across Iran to try to curb security threats, a Basij commander was quoted as saying on Tuesday.
TEHRAN (AFP) — The Islamist Basij militia is to start patrolling streets in urban areas across Iran to try to curb security threats, a Basij commander was quoted as saying on Tuesday.
"Upon people's request and due to the social circumstances, we will launch patrols in different neighbourhoods and towns from May 23," Fars news agency quoted the Basij commander of operations, Ahmad Zolqadr, as saying.
The decision comes after a deadly mosque blast in the southern city of Shiraz that killed 13 people and injured more than 200 in mid-April.
"The patrols will be carried from sunset to dawn by uniformed Basij members holding a special badge and warrant, accompanied by a policeman," Zolqadr said.
"They are tasked with providing security for governmental, public and private buildings, countering thugs and overt crimes, but under no circumstances are they to enter households without a warrant," he said.
Iran has arrested 15 people and accused the United States and Britain of training and financing the bombers.
"Such operations are aimed at creating insecurity in Iran but with the presence of Basji patrols they will get a decisive response," vowed the commander, echoing allegations of US involvement in the Shiraz blast.
Basij is a volunteer militia attached to Iran's elite ideological army, the Revolutionary Guards Corps, which defends the Islamic republic against foreign and domestic threats.
According to official figures, the militia is 10-million-strong with male and female members in government bodies, schools and universities. Basij volunteers provided many fighters in the 1980-1988 war against Iraq.
Iran has in past blamed US and British agents based in neighbouring Iraq and Afghanistan for launching attacks in border provinces with a significant ethnic minority population.
But the strike in Shiraz was the first in decades in Iran's Persian heartland. The normally placid city is not in a border zone, nor is it home to any significant ethnic or religious minority population.