Abbas Ali Soleimani, a former representative of Ali Khamenei in the province of Sistan and Baluchestan and a member of the Assembly of Experts, was murdered inside a bank in the northern Mazandaran city of Babolsar.
Mahmoud Hosseinipour, the governor of Mazandaran, claimed the assailant was a guard at the bank.
Hosseinipour said on state television, “So far, our information and documents indicate that this was not a security or terrorist act.”
A political and security official was quoted by the IRNA news agency as saying that the suspect was in custody and under investigation. He stated that it was still unknown why the strike occurred.
Apart from being a member of the 88-strong Assembly of Experts mandated with supervising, dismissing and electing the supreme leader, Soleimani had led the weekly Friday prayers in the cities of Kashan, in central Isfahan province, and Zahedan in the southeastern province of Sistan-Baluchistan.
His death is the most significant attack on a cleric since April 2022, when a knife attack by a suspected militant in the northeastern shrine city of Mashhad led to the deaths of two clerics and the injury of another.
Iran has been gripped by unrest since September, with anti-government protests following the death in custody of Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini who had been arrested for “inappropriate hijab” (headscarf).