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Published:April 13th, 2008 05:29 EST

Deadly Mosque Blast said to be Accidental

By SOP newswire

Iranian officials say a deadly explosion Saturday in a crowded mosque could have been an accident and not an attack.

A police official told Iranian state media Sunday that the explosives could have been left on the roof of the mosque from an earlier exhibition commemorating the (1980 through 1988) Iran-Iraq War.

Officials say the death toll in the blast has risen to 11 in southern Fars province, with another 191 people wounded - some seriously.

The Fars News Agency quotes local officials as saying the blast occurred in the city of Shiraz during an evening sermon by a prominent cleric.

No one has claimed responsibility for the blast and no official conclusion has been release on what caused the explosion.  Some reports say the blast was caused by a bomb attack, while others say it was an accident.

Fars reported the mosque's cleric had been preaching against Wahhabism and the outlawed Bahai faith.  Wahhabism is the ultra-conservative form of Sunni Islam practiced mostly in Saudi Arabia.

Deadly bomb attacks in Iran have been rare in recent years.  The last major attack in Iran took place in February of 2007.  Suspected Sunni rebels set off a bomb in the city of Zahedan that killed at least 11 Iranian Revolutionary Guards.

A Sunni Muslim group, Jundollah, claimed responsibility for that attack.  Officials say the group is linked to al-Qaida.

Zahedan is the capital of Sistan-Baluchistan province, which borders Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Iran has accused the United States of backing militants in the sensitive border area to destabilize the country.

Some information for this report provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.