Prominent Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was assassinated east of the capital Tehran on Friday, Iran’s defense ministry confirmed in a statement.
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Fakhrizadeh died in hospital due to injuries sustained during a shoot-out between his bodyguards and “armed terrorists” Friday afternoon, the statement said.
The statement described Fakhrizadeh as the head of the defense ministry’s “Research and Innovation Organization.”
The defense ministry did not accuse any parties of involvement.
The semi-official Tasnim news agency, as well as other Iranian outlets including the official IRIB news agency earlier reported the assassination, adding that he was reportedly killed in the city of Absard, 43 miles east of the Iranian capital.
Fakhrizadeh has long been described by Western, Israeli and Iranian exile foes of Iran's clerical rulers as a leader of a covert atomic bomb programme halted in 2003. Iran has long denied seeking to weaponise nuclear energy.