Following Iran's deadly missile and drone strike in Balochistan, Pakistan on Thursday launched air raids on militant targets within Iranian territory, killing multiple "terrorists". The strikes occurred a day after Iran's admitted assault in the province of Balochistan, prompting Islamabad to assert its right to respond to what it termed an "illegal act."
"This morning Pakistan undertook a series of highly coordinated and specifically targeted precision military strikes against terrorist hideouts in Siestan-o-Baluchistan province of Iran. A number of terrorists were killed during the intelligence-based operation – codenamed ‘Marg Bar Sarmachar'," an official statement read.
According to the deputy governor general of Iran’s restive Sistan and Baluchestan province, which borders Pakistan, a series of explosions rocked the southeastern Iranian city of Saravan on Thursday. The official, speaking to the state-run IRNA news agency, said that seven non-Iranian nationals were killed in the blasts, adding that an investigation was underway to determine the cause.
A Pakistani intelligence source told news agency Reuters the strikes targeted Baloch militants inside Iran. "The targeted militants belong to BLF," the intelligence official added, referring to the Balochistan Liberation Front, which seeks independence for Pakistan's Balochistan province.
Pakistan on Wednesday condemned Iran for carrying out a missile and drone strike on its territory, which resulted in the deaths of two children and injuries to three others in Balochistan.
The Pakistani government described the attack as an "unprovoked violation" of its sovereignty and airspace, asserting that it contravenes international law and the principles of the United Nations Charter.
The Iranian operation, which took place on Tuesday, was acknowledged by Tehran's foreign minister, who claimed that the strikes were aimed at Jaish al-Adl, a group Iran considers a terrorist organisation. Jaish ul-Adl, or the “Army of Justice,” is a Sunni militant group founded in 2012, which largely operates across the border in Pakistan.
Islamabad took strong diplomatic measures in response, including the recall of its ambassador to Iran and the barring of the Iranian ambassador from returning to Pakistan.
The incident in Balochistan occurred amidst a backdrop of Iranian military actions in the region, with prior strikes targeting locations in Iraq and Syria. Pakistan had warned of "serious consequences" following the airstrike.
Pakistan's Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Mumtaz Baloch, expressed grave concern over the breach of international norms, and claimed that the attack happened despite multiple established communication channels between the two nations.
The development comes at a time when both nations have faced accusations of harbouring militant groups that launch cross-border attacks. The shared border, stretching approximately 900 km, has long been a source of security concerns for both Islamabad and Tehran.
The recent strike near the village of Sabz Koh, close to the Iranian border, has now brought these tensions to the forefront of Iran and Pakistan's bilateral relations.
China on Wednesday called on both nations to exercise restraint in handling their ongoing conflict after the deadly strike. The Chinese Foreign Ministry urged to “avoid actions that would lead to an escalation of tension and work together to maintain peace and stability in the region.”