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Ex-employee of state firm kills 3 in Iran shooting rampage

May 18, 2022 GMT

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — A recently dismissed employee at one of Iran’s largest state-owned financial conglomerates embarked on a shooting rampage at his former workplace on Wednesday in western Iran, killing three people and injuring five more before killing himself, local media reported.

Police commander Col. Farzad Yasemi was quoted in Iranian media as saying that the assailant shot himself after taking the office hostage and shooting his former co-workers.

Some of the injured remained in critical condition. The suspect was not immediately identified, and the commander did not elaborate on his motive or circumstances but said it happened after his dismissal.

The shooting rampage took place at the Ilam branch of the Mostazafan Foundation, a major conglomerate that manages the country’s mega-projects and businesses. The U.S. Treasury sanctioned the foundation in 2020, describing it as a “key patronage network for Iran’s supreme leader” with some 160 holdings in critical economic sectors including energy, construction and mining.

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Such mass shootings remain rare in Iran, where hunting rifles are the only weapon citizens can legally possess. Many people in the rural Ilam province, particularly in the low plains of the southwest bordering Iraq, have hunting rifles.

Violent acts have escalated in recent years as the country’s economic conditions deteriorate amid crushing American sanctions that helped spark soaring inflation, increasing unemployment and other pressures. Food prices have skyrocketed in recent weeks as the government amends the subsidy system for dinner table basics, stirring public outrage. As the coronavirus pandemic wreaked havoc on Iran, suicide attempts also markedly increased.

Just earlier this week, a man killed himself after shooting and killing his brother, wife and two other relatives near the central Iranian city of Isfahan.