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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 26 March 2019

Iran's Hassan Rouhani urges Pakistan to act against group behind border attack

Iranian leader called for 'decisive' action by Islamabad, warning a failure to act could damage relations

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said 'the actions of small terrorist groups' should not be allowed to damage relations with Pakistan. Reuters
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said 'the actions of small terrorist groups' should not be allowed to damage relations with Pakistan. Reuters

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani called for "decisive" action by Pakistan against a militant group behind a deadly suicide attack in a border area, saying failure to act could jeopardise relations.

Iran's state news agency Irna said Mr Rouhani's remarks were made during a telephone conversation on Saturday with Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, who said he would soon have "good news" for Iran.

A suicide bomber killed 27 members of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards in mid-February in a south-eastern region where the security forces face a rise in attacks by militants from the Sunni Muslim minority.

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

"We are awaiting your decisive operations against these terrorists," Irna quoted Mr Rouhani as telling Mr Khan.

"We should not allow decades of friendship and fraternity between the two countries to be affected by the actions of small terrorist groups, the source of whose financing and arms is known to both of us."

Iran blamed its regional rival Saudi Arabia and arch-enemies Israel and the United States for the attack and other cross-border raids, an accusation rejected by the countries.

Mr Khan said Pakistani forces had come close to the attackers' hideout and there would soon be "good news" for Iran, Irna reported.

"It is in Pakistan's own interest not to allow our territory to be used by terrorist groups, and the Pakistani army is prepared to confront the terrorists more decisively with the information provided by Iran," Mr Khan said.

Revolutionary Guards commanders vowed to retaliate, and Mr Rouhani said Iranian forces were "ready to give a decisive answer to the terrorists in co-ordination with Islamabad".

In September, the Revolutionary Guards fired missiles at an Iraqi-based Iranian Kurdish dissident group that killed at least 11 people in an attack in a western border area.

In October, Iran fired missiles at ISIS militants in Syria, whom it blamed for an attack that killed 25 people on its soil.

Updated: March 10, 2019 04:15 PM

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