Pakistan strikes on southern Iran kill at least nine

Islamabad had warned Tehran of 'serious consequences' after Iranian air strikes killed two children on Tuesday

Pakistani security officials check people at a roadside checkpoint in Quetta, the provincial capital of Balochistan province, Pakistan, on Wednesday. EPA
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At least nine people, including several children, were killed in Pakistani drone and missile strikes on Iran on Thursday morning, two days after Iranian strikes against a separatist militant group on Pakistani soil.

The early-morning strikes hit Iran's south-eastern province of Sistan and Baluchestan, which borders Pakistan's Balochistan province where Iran carried out a drone and missile attack on Tuesday night.

State outlet Irna said explosions were heard around the city of Saravan.

Three women, four children and two men, were killed in the Pakistani strikes, provincial deputy governor Ali Reza Marhamati told the Associated Press. All the victims were foreign citizens living in border villages, he said.

Halvash, a Baluch advocacy group in Iran, said the strikes destroyed the homes of two senior commanders of the Baloch Liberation Army and killed 10 people: four women, five children and a man.

It published footage of destroyed homes and craters surrounded by rubble, and said women and children were trapped under the debris.

Pakistani strikes on southern Iran kill at least nine

Pakistani strikes on southern Iran kill at least nine

The Pakistani army confirmed it had conducted drone and missile strikes on “terrorist separatist groups” in Iran and said it was “necessary to respond in kind”, in a post to its Arabic-language X account.

“We note and warn that whoever extends his finger towards us, it will return amputated, and whoever thinks of attacking us will return … defeated,” it said.

The post also hinted at further action, saying: “Our fingers are on the trigger.”

Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry said several people were killed in a series of “highly-co-ordinated and specifically targeted” strikes against “terrorist hideouts” in Sistan and Baluchestan.

The ministry said Pakistan “fully respects” Iran’s sovereignty but hit out at Tehran for a “lack of action” on intelligence shared by Islamabad in recent years.

“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,” it said.

The Baloch Liberation Army, an ethnic separatist group that has operated in the region since 2000, issued a statement confirming that strikes had caused deaths and warning that Pakistan would “pay a price”.

“Now the Baloch Liberation Army will not remain silent. We will avenge it and we announce war on the state of Pakistan,” it said.

Iran strongly condemned the attack and asked for an “immediate explanation” from Islamabad, summoning the Pakistani envoy to Tehran.

Pakistan's caretaker prime minister Anwar-ul-Haq Kakar cut short his trip to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, as the situation escalate.

Pakistan had criticised Iran's strikes in its Balochistan province as “completely unacceptable” and warned of “serious consequences”.

Islamabad recalled its envoy from Tehran on Wednesday and blocked the Iranian ambassador, on a visit home, from returning to Pakistan.

Iranian news agencies said the “missile and drone” attack targeted the headquarters in Pakistan of Jaish Al Adl, a Baluch militant group.

Mehr news agency described the attack as “another decisive step taken by Iran in response to the aggression against the security of our country”.

A Pakistani security official told The National that Iran's strike convinced Pakistani authorities to respond in the same manner.

“Soon after the Iranian strike that challenged Pakistan’s sovereignty, a response had to be given to Iran because we can’t compromise on such incidents,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity

China, which has large-scale economic projects in Pakistan's Balochistan province, has offered to mediate between the two.

Baluch separatist groups have carried out a low-level insurgency for more than two decades and have targeted members of the security forces in Iran and Pakistan.

Speaking to The National, former inspector general of police Syed Akhtar Ali Shah said Pakistan should accept mediation with Iran and avoid getting dragged into the continuing regional tensions sparked by the war in Gaza.

“I believe that China and other friendly countries should mediate between Pakistan and Iran and resolve the issues through diplomatic channels,” he said.

Iran's strikes in Pakistan came a day after it fired missiles into Syria and Iraq amid growing fears that the conflict in Gaza could spread to the wider region.

Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps said the ballistic missile strikes on the Iraqi Kurdish city of Erbil targeted a Mossad headquarters, accusations denied by Kurdish officials. The attack killed several civilians, including an 11-month-old baby.

The IRGC also struck ISIS militants in north-west Syria, after the group claimed responsibility for two bombings near the tomb of former Quds Force general Qassem Suleimani this month.

Updated: January 18, 2024, 4:33 PM