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Iran Blames Sunni Militants for Killing Five Guards on Pakistan Border

By Nigar Bayramli May 22, 2023

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Iranian soldiers keep watch at a patrol post in the south-east of the country. / AFP

Iranian Prosecutor General of Zahedan (Sistan-Baluchestan Province) Mehdi Shamsabadi has blamed the Sunni militant group, Jaish Al-Adl, for the May 20 attack that killed at least five border guards.

“The case is under investigation and that perpetrators would be prosecuted,” judiciary-linked Mizan News Agency reported, citing Shamsabadi.

Late on May 20, the troops serving in the border regiment of Saravan clashed with a group of "terrorists" who were trying to cross the border near Mok-e Sukhteh, located near Iran-Pakistan border, but were "repelled" by the Iranian forces.

Jaish Al-Adl is a Sunni Baluchi group active in Sistan-Baluchestan Province and its members are based in Pakistani border areas. Iran accuses Jaish Al-Adl of inciting locals in the province to clash with security forces, and has launched an active campaign to dismantle the group.

On May 21, Iran's Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Nasser Kanani described the "terrorist attack" as an "action aimed against the security and interests" of the two countries.

Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesperson said that these "thuggish and terrorist groups" did not want to allow this border to become a "border of friendship and cooperation".

He called on Pakistani authorities to implement agreements between the two countries "as soon as possible" and "to suppress the covert terrorist groups and bolster border security".

The clash happened days after Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi and Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, accompanied by their delegations in a one-day trip, inaugurated a substation and the Pollan-Jiwani electricity exchange line at the Mand-Pishin border point in Sistan-Baluchestan in a ceremony on May 18.

Addressing the ceremony, Raisi said that this opening is one of the manifestations of deepening and strengthening cooperation between two friendly and brotherly countries.

Raisi said in addition to the exchange of energy, there is a will to expand other ties. As an example, Iran and Pakistan opened a joint border market, with "six more border markets" to be opened in order to increase bilateral trade.

The president stated that today everyone has come to the conclusion that the presence of the Americans in the region and Afghanistan does not create security.

"Instead, the cooperation between Iran and Pakistan can establish stable security in the region and the cooperation between the two countries in the economic, commercial, and scientific and technology fields can contribute to the development of two countries," he added.

For his turn, the Pakistani PM said that the latest cooperation is a new chapter between the two countries, and added that “the opening of the post and electricity transmission line is also a source of great satisfaction."

He considered the establishment of seven border markets between the two countries as the beginning of a new era of efforts for the development of the region.

The two countries share 904-kilometer-long border. Situated on the border with Afghanistan and Pakistan, Sistan-Baluchestan Province is an entry point for smuggled drugs and arms, and is home to some militant groups.