Pakistan strikes Iran as both countries accuse the other of harbouring terrorists

World

Iran and Pakistan have accused each other of harbouring terrorists. 

Fighter jets from the Pakistan Air Force undertook a series of coordinated and targeted strikes using extended-range munitions against seven terrorist hideouts in the Sistan and Baluchistan province of Iran.

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In a statement, Pakistan’s foreign ministry said it had “credible intelligence of impending large-scale terrorist activities in the ungoverned spaces of southern Iran.

“These targets were 80km inside Iranian territory where several terrorists were killed.”

Thursday’s attack comes after Iran used missiles and drones on Tuesday to hit what they claim were terrorists in the Sabz Koh village, around 45 km from the Pakistan-Iran border.

Iran’s Foreign Minister, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, said: “We only targeted Iranian terrorists on the soil of Pakistan, and no Pakistani citizens had been targeted, only members of Jaish al Adl.”

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He said he had spoken to his Pakistani counterpart and “assured him that we do respect [the] sovereignty and territorial integrity of Pakistan and Iraq”.

Tehran says it has gone after the Sunni militant organisation Jaish al Adl which has found a safe haven in Baluchistan.

Jaish al Adl is a Sunni militant group operating mainly in southeast Iran.

It has been fighting for independence for Iran’s Sistan and Pakistan’s Baluchistan province and greater rights of the Baluch people on either side of the border.

A map showing Pakistan's Baluchistan and Iran's Sistan and Baluchistan regions
Image:
A map showing Pakistan’s Baluchistan and Iran’s Sistan and Baluchistan regions

Since 2012, it has been operating on the porous border attacking Iranian security personnel and military installations.

The group has been proscribed as a terrorist organisation by Tehran and Washington.

Both countries have accused each other of providing safe havens and turning a blind eye to attacks by militants.

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Over the years, the group has intensified its attack on Iranian personnel and positions. Its members are said to have close association with Kurdish separatists in Iran.

Iran has accused Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the US of backing the group.

For the first time in many years, militaries of the two countries have attacked each other deep in their territories.

This has jeopardised relations between Iran and Pakistan, which share a 900km border.

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Islamabad has recalled its ambassador from Tehran and has asked the Iranian ambassador, who was visiting his country, not to return.

Pakistan is a nuclear-armed country that will go to the polls on 8 February. It has been politically unstable for some time and currently has a caretaker government.

If not contained diplomatically, this exchange of attacks has the potential to escalate into a larger conflict in this volatile region.

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