Iran says nine killed by retaliatory airstrikes from Pakistan

A Pakistani security official stands guard outside the Cultural Centre of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Hyderabad, Pakistan, on Thursday. Photo by Nadeem Khawar/EPA-EFE
A Pakistani security official stands guard outside the Cultural Centre of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Hyderabad, Pakistan, on Thursday. Photo by Nadeem Khawar/EPA-EFE

Jan. 18 (UPI) -- Iran criticized Pakistan for a retaliatory attack on Thursday that killed nine people in a tit-for-tat strike that continued to heighten tensions in the Middle East.

Pakistan conducted "specifically targeted precision military strikes" in Iran, Islamabad said Thursday, one day after Tehran attacked a Sunni militant group inside Pakistan.


Islamabad's foreign ministry said in a statement that Operation Marg Bar Sarmachar killed "a number of terrorists" in hideouts within southeastern Iran's Sistan and Baluchestan Province, which shares a border with southwestern Pakistan.

Iran said three women, four children and two men died in Pakistan's attack and they were not Iranian residents.

Pakistan claimed it focused its targeting on the separatist groups Balochistan Liberation Army and the Balochistan Liberation Front. The BLF said, though, it has no hideouts in the area Pakistan fired on and none of its fighters were killed. The Balochistan Army had no comments on the incident.


In Tehran, Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kan'ani publicly condemned the Pakistani attack and summoned the country's diplomat to the ministry to protest the incident directly to Islamabad.

In the meantime, the European Union, along with China, Russia and Turkey have called for "maximum restraint" for fear of another conflict exploding in the Middle East with the potential of more countries getting involved in the Israel-Hamas war.

The Pakistani ministry identified those targeted as "Pakistani-origin terrorists" who have found safe havens in Iran despite Islamabad having "consistently shared its serious concerns" with Tehran.

"Because of lack of action on our serious concerns, these so-called Sarmachars continued to spill the blood of innocent Pakistanis with impunity," the ministry said, adding that it respects Iran's sovereignty and that the sole objective of Thursday morning's operation "was in pursuit of Pakistan's own security and national interest."

Islamabad launched its attack a day after Iran conducted airstrikes in Pakistan's mountainous southwestern Balochistan region, killing at least four people, including two children.


The tit-for-tat attacks are expected to further raise tensions in the Middle East, which were set off Oct. 7, when Iran-backed Hamas conducted a surprised bloody attack against Israel, launching a war.

However, fears of the conflict spreading have continued to rise as Tehran has become further involved in the conflict through its proxies Hamas in Gaza, Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Houthis in Yemen and now it has been directly attacking its neighbors, claiming retaliation.

Overnight Monday, it conducted strikes in Iraq's Kurdistan Region, claiming to have hit Mossad headquarters, for it blames Israel for the airstrike that killed Sardar Seyed Razi Mousavi, an adviser to Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in Syria, in December.

At the same time, it hit purported terrorists in Syria, seemingly in response to the January attack by the Islamic State that killed more than 100 people in Kerman.

The attack in Pakistan on Wednesday targeted two bases of Jaysh al-Dhulm, and followed 11 Iranian police officers killed mid-December by the terrorist group.

In a sharply worded statement, Pakistan rejected the accusation, describing the attack as an "unprovoked violation" and threatening that there would be "serious consequences."

A Pakistan foreign ministry spokesperson told reporters later Thursday in a press conference that Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar has cut his trip short to Switzerland for the World Economic Forum due to the developments.


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