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Iran warns of 'retaliation' after blaming Pakistan 'government-backed' militant group for suicide attack

The attack left 27 Iranian troops dead [Anadolu]

Date of publication: 16 February, 2019

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Iran has demanded Pakistan take action against a local militant group, or face 'retaliatory measures'.

Iran on Saturday blamed Pakistan for a deadly suicide attack on Iranian troops this week, and demanded Islamabad take action against the perpetrators or face "retaliation".

Revolutionary Guards Commander Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari accused "Pakistan's security forces" of Wednesday's attack on Iranian armed forces, which left 27 people dead, in remarks state TV aired Saturday.

"Pakistan's government, who has housed these anti-revolutionaries and threats to Islam, knows where they are and they are supported by Pakistan's security forces," said Jafari.

He referred to the Sunni extremist group Jaish al-Adl ("Army of Justice") as being responsible for the attack, which left 27 soldiers dead, having claimed responsibility for other militant attacks in Iran.

"If (the Pakistan government) does not punish them, we will retaliate against this anti-revolutionary force, and whatever Pakistan sees will be the consequence of its support for them," he warned.

A farewell ceremony was held in Isfahan on Saturday for those killed in the bombing, with the funerals expected to take place later in the day.

Jaish al-Adl was formed in 2012 out of the Jundallah ("Soldiers of God") militia, which waged a deadly insurgency for a decade before it was severely weakened by the capture and execution of its leader Abdolmalek Rigi by Iran in 2010.

Revolutionary Guards troops travelling on a bus were targeted by a suicide bomber on Wednesday, in the volatile southeastern province of Sistan-Baluchistan, bordering Pakistan.

It was one of the deadliest attacks on Iranian security forces in recent years and came just days after Tehran held celebrations for the 40th anniversary of the 1979 Iranian Revolution.

The Revolutionary Guards commander also blasted "the support that the region's reactionary states Saudi Arabia and the Emiratis" maintain for "conspiracies" that he said were ordered by Israel and America.

"We will certainly follow retaliatory measures," he added, without elaborating.

Jafari's comments came ahead of a two-day visit by Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to Pakistan, which is set to begin on Sunday.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has linked the perpetrators of the attack to "the spying agencies of some regional and trans-regional countries".

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