Iranian and Pakistani flags are seen in this illustration taken, January 18, 2024.

Nine Pakistanis Killed In Iran's Southeast Amid Reconciliation Efforts

Saturday, 01/27/2024

Unidentified gunmen in Iran's restive southeastern region killed nine Pakistani workers in a shooting incident amid recent tensions between the two neighboring countries.

"Deeply shocked by horrifying killing of 9 Pakistanis in Saravan. Embassy will extend full support to bereaved families," the Pakistani ambassador to Tehran, Muhammad Mudassir Tipu, said on the X platform. "We called upon Iran to extend full cooperation in the matter."

The confirmation of the incident by both Pakistan's ambassador and Iranian state media comes amid ongoing efforts by the two nations to mend ties following recent missile attacks on each others territories.

Expressing shock, Pakistani Ambassador Muhammad Mudassir Tipu extended condolences to the bereaved families while urging Iran's cooperation in the investigation. Concurrently, Iranian authorities claimed they are in active pursuit of the fleeing gunmen.

Baluch rights group Halvash reported that the victims were employed as laborers at an auto repair shop, with three others sustaining injuries during the assault. No claim of responsibility has been made for the incident in Saravan, situated in the Sistan-Baluchestan province.

"It is a horrifying and despicable incident and we condemn it unequivocally," Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch said. "We are in touch with Iranian authorities and have underscored the need to immediately investigate the incident and hold to account those involved."

The shooting occurred ahead of a planned visit on Monday to Pakistan by Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian.

State media said the Pakistani and Iranian ambassadors were returning to their postings after being recalled when the neighbouring countries exchanged missile strikes last week aimed at what each said were militant targets.

"The Iran-Pakistan border creates an opportunity for economic exchanges... and must be protected against any insecurity," Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi told Mudassir Tipu as he received the ambassador's credentials on Saturday, state media reported.

Sistan-Baluchestan province, marred by sporadic clashes between security forces and militants, grapples with political tensions between Iran's Shiite government and the Baluch Sunni population.

Iran has some of the lowest fuel prices in the world and this has also led to increasing fuel-smuggling to Pakistan and Afghanistan despite a crackdown by Iranian border guards.

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