At least 11 Iranian security personnel have been killed in an attack on a police station in the southeastern border province of Sistan-Baluchestan, state television reported.
Alireza Marhamati, deputy governor of the province, said on Friday that senior police officers and soldiers were killed and injured in the 2am (22:30 GMT Thursday) attack in the town of Rask, about 1,400km (875 miles) southwest of the capital, Tehran.
A number of assailants were also killed in a shootout that ensued with the security forces, according to state television reports.
The attack was one of the deadliest in years in the region close to Iran’s border with Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The Jaish al-Adl (Army of Justice), a Sunni armed group, claimed responsibility for the attack, state media said. Jaish al-Adl was formed in 2012 and is blacklisted by Iran as a “terror” group.
Unrest has plagued the impoverished province of Sistan-Baluchestan because of drugs-smuggling gangs, rebels from the Baluchi minority and Sunni Muslim hardliners.
Security forces regularly targeted
Similar attacks have previously taken place, including in July when four policemen were killed while on patrol. That attack came two weeks after two policemen and four assailants were killed in a shootout in the province, for which Jaish al-Adl claimed responsibility.
In May, five Iranian border guards died in clashes with an armed group in Saravan, southeast of Zahedan, the provincial capital of Sistan-Baluchestan.
State media reported at the time that the attack was carried out by “a terrorist group that was seeking to infiltrate the country” but whose members “fled the scene after suffering injuries”.
In late May, state-run news agency IRNA quoted police official Qassem Rezaee as saying that “Taliban forces” had shot at an Iranian police station in Sistan-Baluchestan, a drought-hit region. Iran and Afghanistan have been at odds over water rights.
Zahedan, one of the few Sunni-majority cities in predominantly Shia Iran, was also the site of months-long deadly protests that erupted in September last year over the alleged rape of a teenage girl by a police officer.
Jaish al-Adl and its affiliate groups based in Pakistan have been accused of committing cross-border attacks against Iranian forces.
Source: AL JAZEERA