Fourteen Iranian security personnel, including Revolutionary Guard intelligence officers, were allegedly abducted on the southeastern border with Pakistan.
The Revolutionary Guard, Iran’s top security force, said in a statement on Tuesday that some of its members had been kidnapped by an armed group at a border post in the city of Mirjaveh in Sistan-Baluchestan province.
The Guard did not say how many were kidnapped, but state news agency IRNA quoted an unnamed official as saying 14 troops were “abducted between 4am and 5am in the Lulakdan area of the border by a terrorist group”.
The group kidnapped was involved in “a security operation” and included two members of the elite Revolutionary Guard’s intelligence unit and seven members of the Basij force, a volunteer wing of the Guard, as well as regular Iranian border guards, said the Young Journalists’ Club (YJC), a state-owned news website, in an article that was later deleted.
An al-Qaeda-affiliated group known as Jaish al-Adl claimed responsibility for the attack.
In a previous abduction, the armed group killed an Iranian officer and released four soldiers after holding them for nearly two months. The captives were reportedly taken to Pakistan.
Pakistan takes notice
The Guard confirmed the latest abductions in a statement on its website, saying the attack was the work of “treason committed by infiltrators”.
Later on Tuesday, General Mohammad Pakpour, commander of the Guard’s ground forces, called for a joint Iranian-Pakistani operation against those behind the abductions. He said the Pakistani side needs “to assume more responsibility in this regard”.
“We expect Pakistan to confront these terrorist groups that are supported by some regional states, and immediately release the kidnapped Iranian forces,” the Revolutionary Guard said in its statement.
Pakistan’s foreign ministry expressed its concern over the reported abductions of the border guards and said the director generals of military operations from the two sides were coordinating actions.
“Both militaries, under a joint mechanism established since last year, are working to ascertain the whereabouts of Iranian guards,” the ministry said in a statement on Tuesday.
“No effort will be spared to assist our Iranian brothers in finding the Iranian guards,” the statement added.
Sistan-Baluchestan has long been a flashpoint, with Pakistan-based Balochi separatists and armed groups carrying out regular cross-border raids against Iranian security posts.
The province has a large, mainly Sunni ethnic Balochi community which straddles the border, complaining of discrimination at the hands of Iran’s Shia authorities.
In September, the Revolutionary Guard said they killed four Sunni fighters at a border crossing with Pakistan, including the second-in-command of Jaish al-Adl.