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Iran strikes on Balochi militant group in Pakistan kill two children

Iran says it targeted an 'Iranian terrorist group' in neighbouring country, following outcry from Islamabad
Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian during a session at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on 17 January 2024 (Fabrice Coffrini/AFP)

Two children have been killed after Iran struck what it said was an "Iranian terrorist group" in neighbouring Pakistan, prompting an outcry from Islamabad.

The raid took place late on Tuesday, prompting Pakistan to pull its ambassador from Iran and block Tehran's envoy from returning to Islamabad.

Pakistan denounced the attack as a "violation of international law".

Following the outcry from Pakistan, which said the strikes killed two children, Iran was quick to try to play down the impact of the attack.

"None of the nationals of the friendly and brotherly country of Pakistan were targeted by Iranian missiles and drones," Iran's Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Wednesday.

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He said the attack was a response to recent deadly attacks by Jaish al-Adl, a Balochi militant group, on the Islamic republic, including in its southeastern province of Sistan and Baluchistan.

An attack on 10 January on a police station in the city of Rask killed a policeman, just under a month after 11 police officers died in a similar attack in the area.

"The group has taken shelter in some parts of Pakistan's Balochistan province," Amir-Abdollahian said, adding that "we've talked with Pakistani officials several times on this matter".

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Iran has carried out numerous attacks on targets within its regional neighbours since the beginning of Israel's bombardment of Gaza on 7 October, and since two bombings in Kerman on 3 January, claimed by the Islamic State group (IS), killed 90 people.

On Monday, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) launched ballistic missiles in northern Iraq. The IRGC claimed it was targeting Israeli “espionage centres” in the city of Erbil.

In a statement, the IRGC said the attacks came as a reaction to “the recent atrocities of the Zionist regime, causing the killing of commanders of the Guards and the Axis of Resistance," adding that it also hit other targets linked to IS in northern Syria.

In late December, the IRGC announced that its senior military adviser in Syria, Brigadier General Seyyed Reza Mousavi, was killed in an Israeli missile attack in Damascus.

The strikes on Iraq were intended to counter "terrorism" and protect the Islamic Republic, said Iranian foreign ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanani. He added that his country had the “legitimate and legal right to deter national security threats”.

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