Pakistan said Thursday that two of its soldiers were killed when a security outpost along the border with Iran came under attack from a “group of terrorists.”
A military statement said the insurgent raid occurred in the Kech border district in Baluchistan province. Pakistani troops responded “with all available weapons” and pushed back the assailants in the ensuing heavy gun battle, it added.
“Security forces have launched an immediate sanitization operation in the area and are in communication with Iranian authorities across as well to deny terrorists any opportunity to escape,” the statement said.
There were no immediate claims of responsibility for the deadly raid.
In a post on Twitter, the Iranian Embassy in Islamabad said it “strongly condemns the terrorist attack” and extended condolences to the families of the fallen soldiers. The diplomatic mission stressed the need for “mutual cooperation” to combat terrorism, calling it “a common pain.”
Last week, Tehran said a “terrorist” attack killed six Iranian security forces on its side of the border with Pakistan, claiming the assailants were trying to infiltrate Iran and fled the area with casualties.
Islamabad denounced that attack and called for mutual efforts to eliminate terrorists on both sides of the border.
Both countries routinely blame the other for not doing enough to prevent militants from taking refuge and launching cross-border attacks.
Predominantly Shiite Iran is battling militants from its Sunni community in the southeastern Sistan-Baluchistan border region. That region abuts Pakistan’s natural resource-rich and impoverished Baluchistan province, where ethnic Baluch separatists routinely target Pakistani security forces.
The uptick in terrorist attacks on both sides comes just two weeks after Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif traveled to the nearly 900-kilometer shared border between the two countries, where they jointly inaugurated a marketplace and power transmission line.
The new marketplace is one of the six such facilities Islamabad and Tehran are jointly building to create jobs to help thousands of poverty-stricken households living on both sides of the border. The transmission line will export 100-megawatts of Iranian electricity to Pakistan.
Raisi, while addressing the May 18 opening ceremony, said that the marketplaces would help create jobs and boost bilateral “retail trade” to help thousands of households on both sides of the remote, poverty-stricken region.
“The message of this project is one of security. Today, both countries see the border as an opportunity and not a threat,” the Iranian leader stressed.