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Iran Arrests Several Suspects After Terror Attacks in Southeast Province

By Nigar Bayramli April 7, 2024

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At least 11 Iranian security officers and 18 militants from the Sunni group Jaish al-Adl were killed during a large-scale attack on multiple military and police bases in Iran's south-eastern Sistan-Baluchestan Province overnight on April 4, 2024. / Tasnim News Agency

The Iranian law enforcement forces arrested several people who “supported the terrorist attack” in two cities in Southeast Province of Sistan-Baluchestan.

Sunni militant group Jaish al-Adl launched attacks on multiple military and police bases in the cities of Chabahar and Rask on April 4. The clashes lasted for hours, and involved hostages, resulting in the deaths of at least 11 Iranian security officers and 18 militants, according to the Fars news agency.

The Iranian security forces members killed in the attacks comprised seven Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) officials, two police officers and two border guards.

According to the Chief of Judiciary Organization of the Armed Forces, Ahmadreza Pourkhaqan, legal cases have been filed against the arrested people and investigations are in progress.

He said that Jaish al-Adl launched the attacks under order from Israel. "In order to cover up its crimes" Israel "carries out blind assassinations in all parts of the countries of the region" that resist against it, he added.

Jaish al-Adl (Army of Justice) claimed it killed at least 200 members of the Iranian forces and listed six IRGC and police bases that it claimed to have attacked in Chabahar and Rask counties. Meanwhile, the Iranian media claimed that Israel instigated it to delay any possible plans Iran may have for retaliation against the strikes on Iran's consulate in Damascus.

Jaish al-Adl is a Sunni Muslim armed organisation active in Southeast Iran, but is said to have hideouts in Pakistan. The militant group accuses the Shia-based theocracy of attempting to replace a section of the Baluch ethnicity with Shia settlers.

Referring to the recent attack, Iran’s Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi said that "previously, we had asked Pakistan to control the borders as the terrorists can come through from the other side. These warnings have been given and will continue to be given".

He called the flare up in this region "a failed attempt by the terrorists" and blamed "foreign security services" for fomenting the attacks.

Iran has long suspected Pakistan of providing a haven for insurgents and fostering instability on Iran’s southeastern border. Situated on the borders with Afghanistan and Pakistan, the impoverished province of Sistan-Baluchestan is home to some Sunni militants, and an entry point for smuggled arms and drugs.

For over 20 years, Baluch nationalists have engaged in a prolonged, low-intensity insurgency within Sistan-Baluchestan, seeking independence. The militant groups, Ansar al-Furqan and Jaish al-Adl had increased skirmishes with Iranian armed forces in this province, in recent years.

Jaish al-Adl, designated as a terrorist group by Iran, was founded in 2012 and operates in Southeast Iran and in Pakistan. On December 15, 2023, the group attacked a police station in Rask, resulting in the loss of at least 11 police officers’ lives. In response to similar attacks, Iran had warned of potential cross-border raids in to Pakistan.

On January 27, 2024, nine Pakistani workers were shot dead by unidentified attackers in Sistan-Baluchestan near the border with Pakistan. On January 30, Iranian border guards killed a member of the Sunni militant group Ansar al-Furqan in an armed clash in Rask.