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Mystery Group Claims Responsibility For 'Operation' Against Iran Nuclear Facility

Photo released by the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran shows a building damaged by fire at Natanz enrichment facility as the site of July 2 incident.

A mysterious group calling itself "Homeland Panthers" on Thursday claimed responsibility for the explosion at Iran's Natanz nuclear facility hours before its announcement by sending emails to a number of BBC Persian journalists.

According to the website of BBC Persian, in the emails which were sent to the BBC journalists hours before any news of the incident had emerged claimed that they had attacked the facility at 2:00 am local time on Thursday.

In his tweets on Thursday, Jiyar Gol, a BBC Persian journalist, said he had been among the recipients of the email which included some details about the attack. "The email claimed that there had been other attacks that the government had covered up," he wrote and added that the group said this time the government would not be able to cover up the attack because "it was not [at an] underground facility].

According to Gol, the group calling itself "Homeland Panthers" also claimed that they are from among the ranks of Iran's security forces.

The group apparently did not describe the nature of the attack they claimed.

The authorities have not disclosed the time of the attack but a social media user who was on the road in the area near the facility in a tweet has said that at around 2:00 am local time they heard a loud explosion with a huge light. The ground as a result of an explosion, he said. The timing appears to corroborate the timing given in the emails, although we cannot verify the identity of the alleged eyewitness.

Recipients of the email say the group has also claimed that they targeted "the nuclear site of Kashan" and "the newly established assembly line of Natanz" which are not underground facilities as their targets.