Pakistan bombs Baloch insurgency in Iran

The attack comes two days after Iran launched missiles against the group’s bases on Pakistani soil, which Islamabad called ‘unacceptable’

Pakistán bombardea Irán
Pakistani security forces in Quetta.FAYYAZ AHMED (EFE)
Andrés Mourenza

Pakistan attacked several targets allegedly linked to the Baloch insurgency in Iranian territory early Thursday morning. The attack comes two days after Iran launched a missile and drone strike against bases of a Baloch Islamist organization in Pakistani territory, an action that Islamabad called “unacceptable.”

Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that “precise military strikes” were launched against “terrorist hideouts” in Iran’s Sistan and Baluchistan province, which borders Pakistan. According to the statement, “a number of terrorists” were killed in the attack. The deputy provincial security director of Sistan and Baluchistan province told Iranian media that three women and four children were killed. All were said to be non-Iranian nationals.

Calling Iran “a brotherly country,” Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry criticized the presence of Baloch insurgents in the “ungoverned spaces inside Iran.” “Over the last several years, in our engagements with Iran, Pakistan has consistently shared its serious concerns about the safe havens and sanctuaries enjoyed by Pakistani origin terrorists calling themselves ‘Sarmachars’ [...] However, because of lack of action on our serious concerns, these so-called Sarmachars continued to spill the blood of innocent Pakistanis with impunity,” the statement said.

Following Iran’s attack on Tuesday, Pakistan recalled its ambassador to Tehran for talks. Iran and Pakistan have maintained good relations for most of history and, just this week, the two countries’ naval forces conducted joint military exercises. They have also, in the past, conducted coordinated operations against the Baloch insurgency, a stateless people of 15 million who speak an Iranian language and are spread between western Pakistan, southeastern Iran and southern Afghanistan. In all three countries, there are regions bearing the name of Balochistan. The territory in which they live is largely arid and mountainous, but is home to great mineral wealth.

A Pakistani intelligence source told Reuters that the attacks were carried out by aerial bombardment, and several Iranian media have confirmed that Pakistani fighters entered Iranian airspace. The Pakistan Armed Forces reported that Thursday’s attacks were directed against seven targets in three locations in Iran (Sarawan, Sham-e-Sar and Hanag) where the Balochistan Liberation Front (BLF) and the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) were allegedly present. Both groups — which claim their regions are independent — are considered terrorist organizations by Pakistan. The BLA is also considered a terrorist group by the U.S., the European Union and China. Both groups have committed attacks and strikes against Pakistani security forces and civilians.

Since the beginning of the 2000s, the Baloch insurgency in Iran has also intensified, but while the groups active in Pakistan are of secular ideas, and even Marxist in the case of the BLF, the groups active in Iran, such as Jaish ul-Adl (the organization attacked in Pakistan), are of Salafist ideology and emphasize their adherence to Sunnism as opposed to Shia Islam, the majority and official branch of Islam in Iran.

For this reason, in addition to the Iranian security forces, other targets of their attacks have been Shiite pilgrims. Tehran has carried out operations against these groups in its border provinces, but believes that their main targets are in Pakistan, where they receive help from other Islamist organizations. In fact, as acknowledged by Jaish ul-Adl itself in a statement, the facilities hit by Iranian missiles on Thursday were homes where the wives and children of the group’s fighters live.

On Wednesday, a day after the Iranian attack in Pakistan, a Revolutionary Guard colonel, Hossein Ali Javdanfar, was shot dead on a road in Sistan and Baluchistan province while returning from a mission. Jaish ul-Adl claimed responsibility for the attack.

Amid heightened regional tensions stemming from the Israeli war in Gaza, Iran suffered its largest attack since the founding of the Islamic Republic on January 3, when nearly 90 people were killed during a bombing at a ceremony to commemorate the fourth anniversary of the death of Revolutionary Guard commander Qassem Soleimani, who was killed by a U.S. drone strike in Iraq in 2020. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack, and the perpetrators are believed to have come from the Afghan branch of the jihadist group. The Iranian response has been to bomb jihadist targets in Idlib (Syria), the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, Erbil, and Jaish ul-Adl bases in Pakistan.

Sign up for our weekly newsletter to get more English-language news coverage from EL PAÍS USA Edition

Tu suscripción se está usando en otro dispositivo

¿Quieres añadir otro usuario a tu suscripción?

Si continúas leyendo en este dispositivo, no se podrá leer en el otro.

¿Por qué estás viendo esto?


Tu suscripción se está usando en otro dispositivo y solo puedes acceder a EL PAÍS desde un dispositivo a la vez.

Si quieres compartir tu cuenta, cambia tu suscripción a la modalidad Premium, así podrás añadir otro usuario. Cada uno accederá con su propia cuenta de email, lo que os permitirá personalizar vuestra experiencia en EL PAÍS.

En el caso de no saber quién está usando tu cuenta, te recomendamos cambiar tu contraseña aquí.

Si decides continuar compartiendo tu cuenta, este mensaje se mostrará en tu dispositivo y en el de la otra persona que está usando tu cuenta de forma indefinida, afectando a tu experiencia de lectura. Puedes consultar aquí los términos y condiciones de la suscripción digital.

More information

Archived In

Recomendaciones EL PAÍS
Recomendaciones EL PAÍS