Pakistan carried out a series of deadly military strikes on what it referred to as ‘separatist militant hideouts’ inside Iran.
Both Pakistan and Iran have now used the military route to attack militants on each other, at a time of widening conflict in the Middle East and fears of escalation.
According to a CNN report, Islamabad said Thursday its forces launched a ‘series of highly coordinated and specifically targeted precision military strikes’ in Iran’s southeastern Sistan and Balochistan province as part of an operation called ‘Marg Bar Sarmachar,’ a phrase which loosely translates to ‘death to the guerrilla fighters.’
In a separate statement on Thursday, the BLF said it does not have any hideouts in Iran and that no BLF fighters had been killed in recent attacks.
The BLA has not yet commented on the strikes.
Tehran demanded ‘an immediate explanation’ from Pakistan over the strikes, Iranian state-aligned Tasnim news agency reported, citing an official.
Pakistan’s caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar cut short his visit to the World Economic Forum in Davos, as tensions rose along the border.
Ten people were killed in the strikes, Tasnim news agency reported, citing government officials in Sistan and Baluchstan,
The latest incident marks a major escalation between the two neighboring powers and comes as regional hostilities in the Middle East mount over Israel’s ongoing war in Gaza.
Pakistan and Iran have had history of border skirmishes along 900-kilometers (560-mile) in the Baloch region, but such a scale of strikes is unprecedented.
Pakistan on Thursday said it had expressed concern to Iran in recent about the Pakistani separatists living inside Iran, and that they had shared evidence of their presence and activities with their neighbour.
Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry said, ‘However, because of lack of action on our serious concerns, these so-called Sarmachars continued to spill the blood of innocent Pakistanis with impunity. This morning’s action was taken in light of credible intelligence of impending large scale terrorist activities.’
Pakistan said it ‘fully respects the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Islamic Republic of Iran,’ and that the ‘sole objective of today’s act was in pursuit of Pakistan’s own security and national interest which is paramount and cannot be compromised.’
Fears of Escalation in the Middle East
Insurgencies have always been active across the porous border region for decades in an area rich in natural resources, but still underdeveloped and poor, as Baloch separatists have fought for the independence of the Sistan and Baluchistan province, which neighbors Pakistan.
On Wednesday, an Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) vehicle in Sistan and Baluchistan was attacked that Iranian state media says killed one of its colonels.
Iran said the strikes in Iraq and Syria were in response to recent attacks on Iran and the ‘axis of resistance’ of Iran-aligned groups, which have raised concerns about violence spreading from Israel’s war in Gaza.
It claimed targets in Syria were involved in the recent dual bombings in the city of Kerman during a memorial for the slain Quds Force Commander Qasem Soleimani that left many dead and wounded.
Hours after the Houthis struck another US-linked ship in the Red Sea region, the US military launched fresh airstrikes on the Yemeni group, targeting over a dozen Houthi missiles which were loaded on rails and ready to be launched.
Earlier, the Houthis attacked commercial ship Genco Picardy after the US government added the Yemeni group to a terror list and sought to cut off its funding and weapons acquisitions.
Iranian-backed forces in Iraq and Syria have launched dozens of attacks aimed at US military positions in those countries, even as Houthi rebels target commercial ships in the Red Sea.
Since Hamas’ October 7 attacks on Israel and the Israeli offensive in Gaza that followed, Hezbollah has engaged in daily confrontations with Israeli forces on the Lebanon-Israel border.
On Wednesday, Israel’s military chief said the likelihood of war on the country’s northern border is now ‘much higher.’
Iranian Foreign Minister Amir-Abdollahian told CNN at the World Economic Forum in Davos Wednesday that attacks by Iran-backed groups in the Middle East ‘won’t stop until Israel’s war on Hamas in Gaza ends.’
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