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Nine Dead in Pakistan Strikes on Iran: New Toll

Pakistani air strikes on Iran killed nine people in a border region in the Islamic Republic’s southeast on Thursday, state media reported, updating an earlier toll of seven dead.

“Two men were also killed in the missile attack this morning in one of the border villages of Saravan, bringing the death toll to nine,” the official IRNA news agency said, quoting Alireza Marhamati, deputy provincial governor of Iran’s Sistan-Baluchistan province.

Marhamati had earlier said that three women and four children were killed in the strikes.

Pakistan said it had on Thursday launched “a series of highly coordinated and specifically targeted precision military strikes against terrorist hideouts” in Iran’s Sistan-Baluchistan province.

Iran’s Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi said all the dead “were foreign nationals,” in a televised interview.

Iran’s Fars news agency said, without citing any sources, that those killed were “believed to be Pakistani nationals.”

Neither the minister nor Fars explained their presence there at the time.

Sistan-Baluchistan province is one of the few mainly Sunni Muslim provinces in Shiite-dominated Iran.

It has seen persistent unrest involving cross-border drug-smuggling gangs and rebels from the Baluchi ethnic minority as well as jihadists.

Iran condemned the strikes and summoned Pakistan’s charge d’affaire “to protest and request an explanation from the Pakistani government,” according to a statement by foreign ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani.

The attack took place two days after Iran carried out strikes against “terrorist” targets in Pakistan which left at least two children dead.

On Wednesday Pakistan had denounced the strikes near the countries’ shared border, recalled its ambassador from Iran, and blocked Tehran’s envoy from returning to Islamabad.

On January 10, the Jaish al-Adl (Army of Justice) jihadist group claimed an attack on a police station in the southeastern city of Rask which killed one officer. The group had carried out a similar attack in December, killing 11 police officers.

Formed in 2012, Jaish al-Adl is blacklisted by Iran as a terrorist group and has carried out several attacks on Iranian soil in recent years.

The group said on Wednesday it had killed a member of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in Sistan-Baluchistan, IRNA news agency reported.

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