The semi-official Fars news agency, believed to be close to the country’s Revolutionary Guard, said the attack took place in Absard, a small town east of the capital, Tehran. It was said that witnesses heard the sound of an explosion and then machine gun fire. The attack was aimed at a car in which Fakhrizadeh was, the agency said.
The wounded, including Fakhrizadeh’s bodyguards, were later taken to a local hospital, the agency said.
State television later posted a photo of security forces blocking the street on its website. Photos and videos shared online showed a Nissan sedan with bullet holes through the windshield and blood on the road.
No group immediately took responsibility for the attack. However, all of the Iranian media noted the interest Netanyahu had previously shown in Fakhrizadeh.
Hossein Salami, commander in chief of the paramilitary guard, appeared to recognize the attack on Fakhrizadeh.
“The murder of nuclear scientists is the most violent confrontation preventing us from reaching modern science,” Salami tweeted.
Hossein Dehghan, adviser to the Iranian Supreme Leader and presidential candidate in the Iranian elections in 2021, warned on Twitter.
“In the final days of their ally’s political life, the Zionists are trying to step up and up the pressure on Iran in order to wage a full-blown war,” Dehghan wrote, seeming to be referring to US President Donald Trump. “We will descend like lightning on the murderers of this oppressed martyr and make them repent of their actions!”
The Absard area is full of vacation villas for the Iranian elite with views of Mount Damavand, the highest peak in the country. The streets on Friday, part of the Iranian weekend, were emptier than normal due to the coronavirus pandemic lockdown, offering its attackers the opportunity to strike with fewer people nearby.
Fakhrizadeh headed the so-called “Amad” or “Hope” program of Iran. Israel and the West have claimed it was a military operation examining the feasibility of building a nuclear weapon in Iran. Tehran has peacefully maintained its nuclear program for a long time.
The International Atomic Energy Agency says the Amad program ended in the early 2000s. The IAEA inspectors are now monitoring the Iranian nuclear sites within the framework of the now unraveled Iranian nuclear deal with the world powers.