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Two Dead In Armed Attack in Iran's Sistan And Baluchestan Province

Archive Photo of Iranian Border Security soldiers in Sistan and Baluchestan, undated

An Iranian conscript and a member of the Basij militia have been killed in an attack in Pishin county in the city of Sarbaz in Sistan and Baluchestan Province, the judiciary’s website, Mizan, reported on August 22.

The attack took place at the early hours of Tuesday. The armed assailants intended to storm the county’s building but were repelled by guards, Mizan maintained, adding, “During the shooting, a conscript, Mohammad Hoseyn Rastegar, and a member of Basij (no name given) were killed.”

Tasnim, a news website run by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), quoted provincial police commander General Mohammad Qanbari as saying, “Two unknown gunmen on a motorcycle opened fire at the local county office building in Pishin, a small town located in Sarbaz County in the southeastern province of Sistan and Baluchestan on Tuesday morning. A soldier serving in the police has been killed in the attack and the assailants have fled the scene.”

Qanbari has issued a special order to ranger units and other security forces in the province to identify and capture the attackers.

The mainly Sunni-populated province has in recent years been the scene of bloody clashes between Iranian forces and armed groups that are officially branded as terrorists and insurgents.

Iranian military and security officials have long criticized Pakistan for what they call Islamabad’s procrastination in keeping its joint borders with Iran safe and secure.

A Sunni extremist group, Jaish al-Adl, has repeatedly attacked Iranian border guards, taking many of them hostage.

“Ten Iranian border guards have been killed by Sunni militants in a cross-border attack on the frontier with Pakistan,” Tasnim reported last April.

Jaish al-Adl, or the Army of Justice, claimed responsibility, the report said.

“Ten border guards of Mirjaveh county in Sistan-Baluchestan Province were martyred in an ambush by the terrorists in the Pakistani border’s zero-point,” Tasnim wrote.

In a statement carried on state media, Iranian police said the guards were killed by long-range guns and “the Pakistani government bears the ultimate responsibility of the attack.”

Reacting to these bloody clashes, Chief of Staff of Iran’s Armed Forces IRGC Major General Mohammad Bagheri warned that, if necessary, Iranian forces would move into Pakistani territory to capture and punish insurgents.

Islamabad, for its part, summoned Tehran’s ambassador to Pakistan, Mehdi Honardoost, to protest Bagheri’s comments.

Sistan-Baluchestan Province in southeast Iran has long been plagued by drug-smuggling gangs and separatist militants. The population of the province is predominantly Sunni Muslim, while the majority of Iranians are Shi’a.

Map of Sistan and Baluchestan Province in south-east of Iran, the province has witnessed increasing deadly attacks on the country's armed forces during recent years
Map of Sistan and Baluchestan Province in south-east of Iran, the province has witnessed increasing deadly attacks on the country's armed forces during recent years

Jaish al-Adl is a Sunni militant group that has carried out several attacks on Iranian security forces with the aim of highlighting what they say is discrimination against Sunni Muslims and the Baluch ethnic group in the province.

The militants claimed responsibility for attacks that killed eight border guards in April 2015 and 14 border guards in October 2013.

Tehran insists that Jaish al-Adl armed members are terrorists supported and financed by foreign governments.