Tehran, Jan 29 (EFE).- At least two people were killed and two others injured in an anti-insurgency operation by Iranian security forces in the southeastern restive province of Sistan-Baluchistan, bordering Pakistan.
The clash between border police and members of “a terrorist group” occurred in the Jakigur border area, near the town of Rask, border police commander Ahmad Ali Gudarzi said in a statement on Monday.
Gudarzi did not specify the identity of the group and the timing of the operation.
The two wounded men managed to escape after a “heavy exchange of fire,” he said. One of the slain militant was carrying six grenades and a suicide vest, the semi-official Tasnim News Agency reported.
“In recent days, this group intended to enter the country for subversive activities with significant amounts of weapons, ammunition, and explosive devices,” Gudarzi added.
The Sunni-populated Sistan-Baluchistan region is home to several extremist groups that oppose the Shia government in Tehran, as well as smuggling and drug trafficking gangs.
In recent months, there has been a significant increase in attacks by insurgent groups that Tehran classifies as “terrorists,” particularly in areas bordering Pakistan.
On Jan. 18, a colonel of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard was killed in Zahedan, the provincial capital, in an attack claimed by the Jaish al-Adl militant group.
The Sunni group has claimed responsibility for several attacks in the province in recent months.
On Jan. 16, Iran conducted a cross-border attack, targeting alleged “barracks and a headquarters” of Jaish al-Adl in Pakistan’s southwestern Balochistan province.
Tehran said the attack was in response to an “imminent terrorist threat” against the Iranian people.
Pakistan, which reported civilian casualties from the strikes, condemned the attack as “unacceptable,” recalled its ambassador from Tehran, and expelled the Iranian ambassador in protest.
In retaliation, the Pakistani military targeted positions of alleged insurgent groups, the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA), and the Balochistan Liberation Front (BLF), in Iran’s Sistan-Baluchestan province.
As part of swift reconciliation efforts between the two neighboring countries, Islamabad and Tehran “agreed” on Jan. 19 to “de-escalate the situation,” emphasizing close coordination and cooperation on “counter-terrorism” efforts.
Both Pakistan and Iran announced on Friday the return of their respective ambassadors to Islamabad and Tehran.
Iran’s Foreign Minister, Hossein Amir Abdollahian, arrived in Islamabad on Monday to meet with his Pakistani counterpart and Pakistan’s interim Prime Minister to continue de-escalating tensions.
Both Pakistani and Iranian strikes targeted the volatile Balochistan region, which spans across Pakistan, Iran, and Afghanistan and is reportedly home to several regional armed groups.
In the past, Pakistan and Iran have accused each other of not doing enough to curb insurgent activities across the porous border. EFE