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The New Arab

Pakistan in 'active efforts' to recover abducted Iran troops

The Guards blamed "terrorist groups" for the abductions [Getty]

Date of publication: 17 October, 2018

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Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi met his Iranian counterpart Javad Zarif in Islamabad and briefed him "about the active efforts" to locate 11 Iranian security personnel.

Pakistan assured it had launched "active" efforts to locate 11 Iranian security personnel, including Revolutionary Guards intelligence officers, who were abducted near the countries' shared border.

Pakistan's foreign ministry said Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi met his Iranian counterpart Javad Zarif in Islamabad and briefed him "about the active efforts launched by the Pakistan law enforcement agencies to ascertain the whereabouts of the missing Iranian guards, in coordination with the Iranian military and intelligence counterparts".

Qureshi blamed the kidnapping on "our common enemies unhappy with the existing close, friendly relations between Pakistan and Iran", the foreign ministry said in a statement.

The group kidnapped was involved in "a security operation" and included two members of the elite Revolutionary Guards intelligence unit and seven Basij militiamen as well as regular border guards, said the Young Journalists' Club (YJC), an Iranian state-owned news website, in an article that was later deleted.

The Guards blamed "terrorist groups that are guided and supported by foreign forces" for the abductions on Tuesday on the southeastern border with Pakistan.

Flashpoint region

The abduction took place around the Sistan-Baluchistan province, which has long been a flashpoint, with Pakistan-based Baluchi separatists and jihadists carrying out regular cross-border raids against Iranian security posts.

On September 28, the Guards said they had killed four militants who had slipped across the border.

The province has a large, mainly Sunni Muslim ethnic Baluchi community which straddles the border.

Sunni extremist group Jundallah (Soldiers of God) launched a bloody insurgency in the province in 2000 targeting the security forces and officials of Iran's Shia-dominated government.

The campaign peaked with a spate of deadly attacks from 2007 - including twin suicide bombings of a Shia mosque that killed 28 people - but abated after the group's leader was killed in mid-2010.

In 2012, Jundallah members formed a successor organisation called Jaish al-Adl (Army of Justice), which has carried out a spate of attacks on the security forces.

Iran has alleged that the group has received support from the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia, with the complicity of Pakistan.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards have been target of recent attacks.

In July, at least 10 Guards were killed when insurgents attacked one of their bases along the border with Iraq.

The attack happened at night in the village of Dari, in the Marivan district of Iran's northwestern Kurdistan region. 

In June, three border guards were killed in a clash with a "terrorist group" in southeastern Iran, the country's semi-official Fars news agency reported.

The clash took place in Mirjaveh, another town in the Sistan and Baluchestan Province near the Pakistani border.

The province also lies on a major smuggling route for Afghan opium and heroin. 

Agencies contributed to this report.

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