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At least 9 people were killed in an attack by Pakistan’s air force on Iran early on Thursday, which was carried out in retaliation for Iranian militant positions and further heightened tensions between the two countries.
The Associated Press reported that the strikes in Sistan and Baluchestan province come after Iran attacked Pakistani territory on Tuesday, killing two children in the southwest province of Baluchistan.
The strikes put diplomatic ties between the two neighbours in jeopardy because Pakistan, which possesses nuclear weapons, and Iran have long harboured misgivings about one another due to terrorist attacks.
The Middle East, which is still uneasy because of Israel’s conflicts with Hamas in the Gaza Strip, is more likely to experience violence as a result of the attacks. In response to a suicide bombing claimed by ISIS that earlier claimed over 90 lives, Iran also carried out airstrikes in Syria and Iraq late on Monday.
Their attack was characterized as “a series of highly coordinated and specifically targeted precision military strikes” by Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry. The Foreign Ministry said, “This morning’s action was taken in light of credible intelligence of impending large-scale terrorist activities.” “Pakistan’s resolute determination to safeguard and defend its national security against all threats is demonstrated by this action.”
Iran and Pakistan are home to several insurgent groups, such as the Jaish al-Adl separatist group, which Tehran specifically targeted in its strike. An independent Baluchistan for ethnic Baluch regions in Afghanistan, Iran, and Pakistan is their shared objective.
Baluch nationalists have waged a low-level insurgency in Pakistan’s Baluchistan province and Iran’s Sistan and Baluchestan province for over 20 years.
Pakistan strikes Iran
The operation was called “Marg Bar Sarmachar” in Pakistan. Marg bar, which translates to “death to” in Iranian Farsi, has been a well-known expression in Iran since the 1979 Revolution and has been applied to both Israel and the US. The term “sarmachar,” which translates to “guerrilla,” is used by the militants who operate in the cross-border area.
In a phone interview, Ali Reza Marhamati, the deputy governor of Sistan and Baluchestan province in Iran, provided the death toll from Thursday’s strike, stating that three women and four children were among the dead. He only said that the deceased were at first, without providing any further details.
HalVash, an advocacy group for the Baluch people, uploaded images of what appeared to be the remaining ammunition from the attack to the internet. It said that damage had been done to many homes in Saravan, an Iranian city in the Sistan and Baluchestan province. Videos of a building with mud walls collapsing and smoke rising over the explosion were circulated.
The events of Thursday occurred one day after Pakistan called back its ambassador to Tehran due to Iran’s strikes in Pakistan’s southwestern province of Baluchistan on Tuesday. Iran asserted that it targeted a militant separatist group’s bases. Pakistan, which described the attack as a “blatant violation” of its airspace and claimed two children were killed, strongly condemned it.