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Jun 23, 1:48 PM EDT

Iran detains 6 suspects on espionage charges in northwest


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TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- Iranian authorities detained six members of an Azeri separatist group on espionage charges in the country's northwest, state-owned IRAN newspaper reported on Thursday

The report said the suspects gathered "classified military and economic documents" and handed them over to "enemies." It says they were members of the "Gamo" separatist group in East Azerbaijan province.

The paper didn't elaborate how the suspects obtained access to classified information.

Iran occasionally announces arrest of suspected spies without any further report on their fates.

Separatism has not been predominant among Iran's sizable ethnic Azeri community, though Azeris have been seeking schools in their language and more government investment in their area.

Many Iranian leaders are Azeri or have Azeri roots, including Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei who has final say on all state matters.

Also Thursday, Iranian media quoted a local official in the southwestern province of Khuzestan as saying that authorities killed and detained several people suspected of sabotage and terrorism recently. The report didn't provide other details.

And on Tuesday, Iran said 10 "terrorists" were arrested in the capital, Tehran, and three border provinces. The announcement came a day after authorities said that security forces had broken up one of the "biggest terrorist plots" ever on its soil.

According to the statement, the suspects planned to carry out suicide attacks and other bombings in parts of the Iranian capital.

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