Iran claims suicide bomber belonged to Pakistan


–Brig Gen Pakpour alleges one other member of militant cell that killed 27 Revolutionary Guards was also Pakistani citizen


TEHRAN: An Iranian general on Tuesday claimed that the suicide bomber who killed 27 members of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards in southeast Sistan and Baluchestan province last week was a Pakistani citizen.

One other member of the militant cell that planned the attack was also a Pakistani citizen, the head of the Guards’ ground forces, Brigadier General Mohammad Pakpour was quoted by the Tasnim news agency as saying.

Iran has repeatedly blamed Pakistan for sheltering militants connected with attacks in the border area, although Tuesday’s remarks appear to be the first time Tehran has said Pakistani citizens were directly involved in the attack.

Iran also accuses regional rival Saudi Arabia of promoting violence among members of Iran’s Sunni Muslim minority. Pakistan and Saudi Arabia deny any role in attacks in Iran.

Three Iranians from Sistan and Baluchestan province in southeast Iran were also part of the cell and two of them have been arrested, according to Pakpour. The guards announced three arrests in the case on Monday.

The Sunni group Jaishal Adl (Army of Justice), which says it seeks greater rights and better living conditions for ethnic minority Baluch in eastern Iran claimed responsibility for the attack.

“Today Saudi Arabia is the heart of evil in the region and the world,” Brigadier General Hossein Salami, the deputy head of the Guards, said on Tuesday at a ceremony commemorating those killed in the attack, according to the Fars news agency.

Remnants of the car used in the suicide attack were given to the police, Pakpour said. Once the owner of the car was identified, intelligence and security forces carried out arrests.

The militants had planned to carry out multiple attacks, Pakpour said: “This group had prepared a lot of ammunition and equipment.”

A similar statement was made by Iranian president and general right after the attack. At the time, President Hassan Rouhani told reporters that unless Pakistan cracked down on the militant group, Iran would take action it “deems appropriate.”

Also, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps chief had warned Pakistan to penalise the Jaish ul-Adl militant group. He said if Islamabad failed to go after the jihadist militant group, which took responsibility for the bombing Wednesday, Iran would take its own “revenge.”

“If Pakistan fails to punish them in the near future, Iran will do so based on international law and will retaliate against the terrorists,” Jafari had told Iranian media.

Iran had also summoned Pakistani envoy after the attack.