Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, Iran’s top nuclear scientist, was killed on Friday in an ambush near the Capital Tehran, Reuters reported.

“Armed terrorists targeted a vehicle carrying Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, head of the ministry’s research and innovation organisation,” Iran’s defence ministry said in a statement on Friday, according to BBC.

Reportedly, “terrorists blew up another car” before firing on a vehicle carrying Fakhrizadeh and his bodyguards in the ambush, according to Reuters.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, has condemned the killing “as an act of state terror” and pointed fingers at Israel’s possible role in the incident.

“This cowardice, with serious indications of Israeli role, shows desperate warmongering of perpetrators,” he said in a statement.

Who was Mohsen Fakhrizadeh?

According to Reuters, Fakhrizadeh, 59, has long been described by Western countries as a leader of a covert atomic bomb programme halted in 2003, which Israel and the United States accuse Tehran of trying to restore in secret. Iran has long denied seeking to weaponise nuclear energy.

He was the only Iranian scientist named in the International Atomic Energy Agency’s 2015 “final assessment” of open questions about Iran’s nuclear programme.

Documents obtained by Israel in 2018, showed that he led a programme to create nuclear weapons, according to BBC.

“Remember that name,” Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said as he identified Fakhrizedeh as the head scientist in the programme.

Fakhrizadeh had long been the top target of the Mossad, Israel’s intelligence service, reported The New York Times.