TEHRAN: Fourteen Iranian security personnel, including Revolutionary Guards intelligence officers, were abducted on the volatile south-eastern border with Pakistan on Tuesday, state media reported.
The Guards blamed "terrorist groups that are guided and supported by foreign forces" for the abductions and demanded action by the Pakistani authorities to help locate the captive troops.
The force was "abducted between 4am and 5am in the Lulakdan area of the border by a terrorist group," the official Irna news agency said.
Lulakdan is a small village 150km southeast of Zahedan, capital of the south-eastern province of Sistan-Baluchistan.
The abduction was carried out by "infiltrators linked to anti-revolutionary groups," the Guards said in a statement on their website.
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"Members of terrorist groups that are guided and supported by foreign forces carried this out through deceiving and bribing infiltrators," they added.
They said operations were underway to find those responsible and called on Pakistan to help recover the captive Iranians.
The 14 were involved in "a security operation" and included two members of the elite Revolutionary Guards intelligence unit, seven Basij militiamen and five regular border guards, the Young Journalists' Club (YJC), a state-owned news website, said.
The report was deleted from the YJC website shortly afterwards.
Meanwhile, Pakistan noted with concern the reports of abduction of Iranian border guards from Iran. Both the militaries, under a joint mechanism established since last year, are working to ascertain the whereabouts of Iranian guards, added the Foreign Office.
“DGMOs from two sides are coordinating actions in this regard,” said the statement, adding, “No efforts will be spared to assist our Iranian brothers in finding the Iranian guards.”
On Sept 28, the Revolutionary Guards said they had killed four militants who had slipped across the border.
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Sistan-Baluchistan has a large, mainly Sunni ethnic Baluchi community which straddles the border.
Militant group Jundallah (Soldiers of God) launched a bloody insurgency in the province in 2000 targeting the security forces and officials of Iran's government.
The campaign peaked with a spate of deadly attacks from 2007 — including twin suicide bombings against a mosque that killed 28 people — but abated after the group's leader was killed in mid-2010.
In 2012, Jundallah members formed a successor organisation called Jaish al Adl (Army of Justice), which has carried out a spate of attacks on the security forces.
Iran has alleged that the group has received support from the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia.
(With additional input from News Desk, Reuters)