Iran demands Pakistan hand over terrorist leader


Islamabad: Iran formally asked Pakistan Friday to hand over the leader of a terrorist organisation allegedly involved in a series of deadly attacks, including last weekend’s suicide blast that killed at least 42 Iranians.

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Iran says that Abdolmalik Rigi, head of Jundollah (Soldiers of God) militant group, is hiding in Pakistan’s southwestern Balochistan region to orchestrate several terrorist attacks inside Iran.

The demand to hand over Rigi was delivered by Iranian Interior Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najjar during his meeting with Pakistani counterpart, Rehman Malik, in Islamabad.

“The Iranian asked to hand over Rigi during the meeting,” a senior official of Pakistan’s interior ministry said on condition of anonymity.

“But we told him that he (Rigi) is not here. We also told him that Pakistan is victim of terrorism and we are ready to extend cooperation,” he said.

The official said Pakistan had arrested two suspected terrorists wanted by Iran but they would be expatriated once the process of identification of the suspects is completed.

Najjar arrived in Pakistan Friday in a bid to convince its leaders to cooperate in combatting Jundollah, a Sunni group that accuses Shia Iranians of committing crimes against the Sunni minority sect.

Jundollah took responsibility for the suicide attack on Iran’s Revolutionary Guards in its southwestern Sistan-Baluchistan area along Pakistan’s border. The attack killed at least 15 guards, including six senior commanders, and 27 civilians last weekend.

The deadly bombing strained relations between the two Asian countries as Tehran maintained that Rigi is supported by the US and Britain and is using Pakistan soil with the connivance of certain high-ranking Pakistani officials to destabilise the Islamic regime.

President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad alleged Pakistan’s involvement in the suicide attack. On Tuesday a commander of elite Revolutionary Guards, General Mohammad Pakpour, asked the government to let his force go after the terrorists in Pakistan.