A jihadist group has claimed responsibility for the abduction of 12 Iranian security personnel near the border with Pakistan, Iran’s semi-official news agency ISNA reported.
“The terrorist group Jaish al-Adl (Army of Justice) has posted two photos … claiming that those in it are the forces abducted” on October 16, ISNA said on Monday, October 22.
Jaish al-Adl, formed in 2012, was founded by members of the Sunni extremist group Jundallah (Soldiers of God) which has carried out a spate of attacks on Iranian security forces in recent years in the southeastern province of Sistan and Balochistan.
The photos show seven members of the elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps force and five police commandos, all in combat gear, according to state news agency IRNA.
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The Iranians, including intelligence officers, were abducted near Lulakdan, a village 150 km (90 miles) southeast of Zahedan, capital of Sistan and Balochistan.
They were “made unconscious” by a “single infiltrator” and then kidnapped and taken to bases inside Pakistan, IRNA quoted IRGC commander Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari as saying.
The photos also show a haul of automatic weapons and rifles, rocket launchers, machine-guns, grenades and ammunition, apparently seized from the Iranian forces.
Sistan and Balochistan has long been a flashpoint, with Pakistan-based Baluchi separatists and jihadists carrying out regular cross-border raids against Iran.
The province has a large, mainly Sunni Muslim ethnic Baluchi community which straddles the border.
A delegation led by the IRGC ground forces commander Mohammad Pakpour visited Pakistan on Monday to follow up on efforts to free the Iranians, the force said on its website.
Pakistan said last Wednesday that it has launched “active” efforts to locate the missing men.
Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has blamed the kidnapping on “our common enemies unhappy with the existing close, friendly relations between Pakistan and Iran.”
With reporting from AFP