Three Iran revolutionary guards killed
Washington Post/Reuters / Ramin Mostafavi

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Three members of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards were killed in clashes this week with unidentified "counter-revolutionary forces," an Iranian news agency said on Wednesday.

The semi-official Mehr news agency said the three guards were killed on Tuesday in the city of Khoy in northwest Iran where a prosecutor was shot dead in January. Iran said a Kurdish guerrilla group was behind that incident.

The agency described the attackers as "counter-revolutionary agents" but gave no more details on their identity. It said a funeral for the dead would be held on Thursday.

Iran, a major world oil and gas producer, has faced its worst internal dissent since the 1979 revolution as opponents of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad took the streets to protest at his reelection last June.

Iran is also locked in dispute with the United States and its allies over its nuclear energy programme, which Washington fears will allow Tehran to acquire nuclear weapons.

The Revolutionary Guards is one of the most powerful bodies in Iran's ruling establishment. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in February its growing strength -- with wide political and economic interests -- was turning Iran into a military dictatorship.

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