Deadly attack on Revolutionary Guards strains Iran-Pakistan ties


Tehran : A deadly attack against Revolutionary Guards in the southeastern province of Sistan-Baluchistan has strained bilateral ties between Iran and Pakistan, Iranian state television reported Monday.

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Forty-two people, including at least seven senior commanders of the Revolutionary Guards, were killed in the incident Sunday. Another 28 were wounded and were still in critical condition.

“Although Iran and Pakistan have brotherly ties, the presence of terrorist groups in that country has no justification at all,” Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told his Pakistani counterpart Asif Ali Zardari in a phone conversation.

The radical group Jundollah (Soldiers of God), which has already claimed responsibility for Sunday’s deadly attack by a suicide bomber, is based in Pakistan, which borders Sistan-Baluchistan province.

“Confronting these terrorists is a must (for Pakistan) and the Pakistani government should cooperate with Iran to arrest the culprits as soon as possible. There should be no further hesitation,” Ahmadinejad told Zardari.

Ahmadinejad allocated Monday’s cabinet session to the incident in Sistan-Baluchistan and called on all relevant ministries to focus their attention on finding those involved in the massacre.

The chief commander of the Revolutionary Guards Monday accused the Pakistani intelligence agency of supporting the Jundollah group and its leader Abdolmalik Rigi.

“Our security agents have presented documents showing that the Rigi group is supported by the American, British and Pakistani intelligence agencies,” General Mohammad-Ali Jafari said.

The general added that an Iranian security delegation would soon go to Pakistan “to let them know that we are aware of their support” for the Jundollah group.

Jundollah is believed to be involved in drug-trafficking in Sistan-Baluchistan and accordingly also in kidnapping and murder. The group is also said to be linked to the terrorist group Al Qaeda.

Jundollah has had deadly clashes in the last two decades with the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, who are in charge for protecting the country’s border regions.

Jundollah rebels easily flee into neighbouring Pakistan, making it impossible for Iranian guards to trace them.

Iran says that despite several security meetings with Islamabad, there has been no efficient cooperation yet with Pakistani border guards to settle this problem.

Tehran further says that the Jundollah group is also used by the US and Britain to sow discord between the Muslim Sunni minority in southeastern Iran and the Iranian Shiite majority.

Sunday’s attack was the deadliest so far carried out by Jundollah. One of those killed in Sunday’s explosion was General Nourali Shoushtari, vice-commander of the guards’ ground forces.

Observers believe that the main motivation behind Sunday’s attack was that Abdol-Hamid Rigi, the brother of the group’s leader, is on death row in Iran.

State-television also reported that the burial ceremony of those killed in the bombing incident was to be held later Monday.

It also said two reporters from state television were among the victims.