At least 17 Iranian border guards have been killed in a clash with gunmen on the border with Pakistan, the official Iranian news agency Irna says.
The clashes took place on Friday night in a mountainous region outside Saravan, a border town in the south-east province of Sistan Baluchistan.
A number of guards were also wounded in the attack, reports said.
An unnamed official quoted by Irna blamed “bandits or rebels opposed to the Islamic republic”.
At least 17 Iranian border guards have been killed in a clash with gunmen on the border with Pakistan
Iran lies on a major drug trafficking route between Afghanistan and Europe.
The population in this Sunni Muslim area complains of discrimination by Iran’s Shia establishment. An armed group, called Jundallah, has carried out a number of attacks against the state in recent years.
“We do not have exact details of the incident yet,” Tasnim news agency quoted Saravan’s member of parliament, Hedayatollah Mirmoradzehi, as saying.
“No group has claimed responsibility for the incident so far.”
“Since the venue of the operation is in a location that is geographically difficult of access, we have no exact information on whether any of the officers there were abducted or not,” he added.
The region has experienced repeated deadly clashes over previous years.
AFP news agency quotes officials as saying more than 4,000 police officers and soldiers have been killed in the past three decades in fighting with traffickers.
A new 6.8-magnitude earthquake has struck Pakistani province Balochistan, where at least 400 people died in a quake earlier this week.
Reports said the new quake hit remote Awaran district, killing at least 12 people and burying others under rubble.
An official told Pakistan television that communications already damaged by last Tuesday’s quake had been cut off.
Efforts to help thousands left homeless by the first earthquake have struggled against poor roads and separatists.
The US Geological Survey said Saturday’s tremor measured 6.8-magnitude and could be felt across Balochistan province.
Pakistan’s Meteorological Department classed it as an aftershock measuring 7.2 magnitude.
Abdul Rasheed Baloch, the deputy commissioner of Awaran district, told Pakistani television that one village, Nokjo, had suffered damage to most of its buildings, leaving people trapped under debris.
A new 6.8-magnitude earthquake has struck Pakistani province Balochistan, where at least 400 people died in a quake earlier this week
“The telephone system has been damaged and we are not able to talk to someone and find out the exact information about the losses… but we have reports of severe losses in that area,” he said, according to Associated Press.
Eight of those who died in Saturday’s tremor were from Nokjo, officials said, with another four killed in the Mashkay area.
An AFP reporter in Awaran said hundreds of patients being treated after the last quake fled a hospital in panic as the latest tremor struck.
Saturday’s quake was felt as far away as Karachi.
An office worker there described his chair shaking: “At first I thought it was a delusion or a false feeling. But all my colleagues ran out of the office. The shakes were heavy.”
Officials have estimated that about 300,000 people were affected by the earlier, 7.7-magnitude quake which leveled mud and homemade brick homes, injuring hundreds.
Many survivors have been sleeping in the open air or in tents.
Rescue and relief efforts after the earlier quake have been hampered by the region’s poor road network.
Officials have appealed to separatist military groups operating in the area following attacks on army units involved in providing assistance.
Pakistan’s official paramilitary force, the Frontier Corps, has been leading rescue and relief operations.
It already had thousands of soldiers deployed in the area because it is fighting a long-running separatist insurgency by Baloch nationalist rebels.
The violent force of Tuesday’s 7.7-magnitude quake caused the creation of a new 56ft long island off the coast of Pakistan near the port of Gwadar.
At least 238 people have been killed after a powerful earthquake hit Pakistan’s remote south-west province of Balochistan.
The 7.7-magnitude quake struck on Tuesday afternoon at a depth of 13 miles north-east of Awaran, the US Geological Survey said.
Many houses were flattened and thousands of people have spent the night in the open.
After the quake, a small island appeared off the coast near the port of Gwadar, witnesses reported.
People gathered on the beach to see the new island, which is about 30ft high and 300ft long, Gwadar Police Chief Pervez Umrani said.
Balochistan is Pakistan’s largest but least populated province.
The region is prone to earthquakes, with at least 35 people killed in a 7.8-magnitude tremor that was centred in south-eastern Iran in April.
The latest quake was so powerful it was felt as far away as Karachi, Hyderabad, and India’s capital, Delhi.
At least 238 people have been killed after a powerful earthquake hit Pakistan’s remote south-west province of Balochistan
Entire villages are reported to have been flattened in the impoverished and sparsely-populated district of Awaran.
Balochistan government spokesman Jan Buledi put the death toll at 238, more than 200 of the fatalities in Awaran town and the surrounding villages. He has warned that it could rise. At least 340 people have been injured.
“We are seriously lacking medical facilities and there is no space to treat injured people in the local hospitals,” Jan Buledi said.
He said helicopters were airlifting the most seriously injured to Karachi while others were being cared for in neighboring districts.
Pakistan’s military was among the first to respond to the crisis, having a heavy presence in the area already because it is fighting a long-running separatist Baloch insurgency.
The army said it had sent more than 200 soldiers, medical teams and tents from the regional capital Quetta, but the mountainous terrain is said to be hampering the rescue operation.
Awaran local government official Abdul Rasheed Baluch said around 90% of houses in the district had been destroyed.
“Almost all the mud houses have collapsed. We have been busy in rescue efforts for the whole night and fear we will recover more dead bodies from under the rubble during daylight,” he said.
Many of the casualties are said to be from Labach, on the northern outskirts of Awaran town.
Houses are also reported to have caved in the district of Khuzdar.
An emergency has been declared in Awaran and another earthquake-affected district, Chagai.
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