Iran arrests “terrorist cell” near Pakistan border

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Published Monday, January 5, 2015

Iran arrested a "terrorist cell" accused of killing civilians in a flashpoint border area and detained in a separate incident three Afghans planning to join extremist groups in Iraq, media reported on Monday.

An undisclosed number of cell members were caught near Sarbaz in southeastern Sistan-Baluchistan province, said a statement from Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) published by the official IRNA news agency.

The report provided no date or detail about the operation but said those detained had "committed a series of terrorist attacks, including the killing of teachers and Basijis (Islamic militia volunteers)."

Earlier last week, two masked motorcyclists killed an Iranian Basiji and a teacher in the city of sarbaz. The gunmen fled the scene.

In the same week, three members of Iran's IRGC, sent to reinforce border police, were killed in the same region in an ambush by unidentified militants who then fled into Pakistan.

Sistan-Baluchistan province, which borders Pakistan is plagued by violence involving extremists militants and drug smugglers.

Iran accuses members of Jaish al-Adl (Army of Justice), an extremist militant group with links to al-Qaeda, of carrying out frequent deadly raids on police officers, border guards and IRGC's members.

In last February, Jaish al-Adl, claimed responsibility for kidnapping five Iranian border guards and taking them to Pakistan. One was killed and the others were freed in April.

In a separate incident, three Afghan nationals carrying explosives were arrested by the Iranian border police close to Iraq, said the semi-official Fars news agency, considered close to the IRGC.

They crossed from Afghanistan into Iran and intended to join the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) extremist group, which has declared an ‘Islamic State’ in large swathes of land it captured in Iraq and Syria, when they were detained, Brigadier General Qassem Rezayee of the Border Force told Fars.

Tehran, which has refused to join the so-called international coalition against ISIS, advocates regional support for the Iraqi and Syrian governments and armies.

To help counter a lightning ISIS offensive launched on June 9, Iran has supplied Iraqi Kurds with weapons and sent military advisers to Baghdad, but denied it had deployed ground troops.

Iran and other critics opposed to US involvement in the conflict with ISIS have pointed out that Washington in partnership with its Gulf allies, including Saudi Arabia, played a role in the formation and expansion of extremist groups like ISIS by arming, financing and politically empowering armed opposition groups in Syria.

(AFP, Al-Akhbar)


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