Iran Arrests Terrorists Over Suicide Bomb Attack on IRGC

Tuesday, 19 February, 2019 - 10:45
London- Asharq Al-Awsat

The man who carried out a suicide bombing which killed 27 members of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards near the border with Pakistan last week was Pakistani, a senior Revolutionary Guards commander said on Tuesday, according to the Tasnim news agency.

One other member of the militant cell that planned the attack was also a Pakistani citizen, the head of the Guards’ ground forces, Brigadier General Mohammad Pakpour said.

Iran has repeatedly blamed Pakistan for sheltering militants connected with attacks in the border area, although Tuesday’s remarks appear to be the first time Tehran has said Pakistani citizens were directly involved in the attack.

Three Iranians from Sistan and Baluchistan province in southeast Iran were also part of the cell and two of them have been arrested, according to Pakpour. The guards announced three arrests in the case on Monday.

Jaish al Adl group (Army of Justice), which says it seeks greater rights and better living conditions for ethnic minority Baluchis in eastern Iran, claimed responsibility for the attack.

Sistan-Baluchistan is a volatile area near Iran's borders with Pakistan and Afghanistan where militant groups and drug smugglers frequently operate.
Tehran says militant groups operate from safe havens in Pakistan and have repeatedly called on the neighboring country to crack down on them.

Sunday, Iran has summoned the Pakistani ambassador to protest the suicide bombing, with IRGC’s commander in chief Mohamad Ali Jaafari vowing to make Pakistan pay for the attack.

"We hope the Pakistani government can and wants to prevent such things from happening again," ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi told reporters.

Iranian Army Chief of Staff Mohammad Bagheri announced Monday that Iran has provided Pakistani officials with “information on the terrorist groups' hidden and semi-hidden training centers.”

Bagheri asked Pakistani army commanders to “either confront the groups or allow [Iranian] forces to enter,” according to Fars news agency.

He said although Iran has secured large chunks of the border, some parts are left open by the Pakistani side and are being used by terrorist groups to freely roam between the two countries.

General Bagheri said the Pakistani army had already started an anti-terror operation using Iranian intelligence.

“It is possible that this effort won’t be effective but we will keep the pressure and continue negotiations with Pakistan until we make sure this terrorist group is eradicated from Sistan and Baluchestan,” he added.

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