Attack kills 4 paramilitary members in Iran’s southeast
CAIRO (AP) — State media said four members of Iran’s paramilitary force were killed Monday in an attack in a southeast province that has been a stronghold of separatist forces opposed to the country’s clerical rulers.
Iran’s Sistan and Baluchistan has also turned into an epicenter for anti-government protests sweeping the country in past months.
According to IRNA, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard led a manhunt for the attackers in the area. It alleged the attackers escaped across the border into Pakistan.
No one immediately claimed the attack.
In a separate statement issued Monday, the Revolutionary Guard said the attack took place near the town of Saravan and that the victims included a lieutenant from its force and three Basij, a paramilitary volunteer group loyal to the Islamic Republic. No further details were provided by the Iranian authorities.
In another incident Monday, three police officers were injured after gunmen attacked them in the Sistan and Baluchistan town of Rask, IRNA reported. The three police were later taken to hospital, it said. No further details were given.
Sistan and Baluchistan province, which borders both Pakistan and Afghanistan, is home to the Baluchi, a predominately Sunni Muslim ethnic minority group. The area is also on a major route for drug trafficking to Europe and Arab Gulf nations.
Anti-government protests sparked by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who died after being detained by the Iranian morality police in September, rapidly spread to the southeastern province. The protests have morphed into one of the most serious challenges to Iran’s theocracy since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
At least 503 people have been killed in the countrywide demonstrations amid a heavy-handed security crackdown, according to Human Rights Activists in Iran, a group that’s been monitoring the protests since they began.
Nearly weekly demonstrations have been held in Zahedan, the capital of Sistan and Baluchistan. In September, 19 people, including a Revolutionary Guard commander, were killed in clashes at a police base in Zahedan, in what Iranian officials alleged was a separatist attack.