Five of 12 missing security personnel ‘safely’ recovered and handed over to Iranian authorities
Pakistan on Thursday said its security forces safely recovered five Iranian guards, abducted near the countries’ shared border a month ago.
Jihadist group Jaish al-Adl (Army of Justice) had claimed responsibility for the abduction of 12 Iranian security personnel.
“With concerted efforts of Pakistani law enforcement agencies and armed forces, five abducted Iranian guards have been safely recovered,” foreign ministry spokesperson Muhammad Faisal said in a statement from Islamabad.
The Iranians, including intelligence offices, were abducted near Lulakdan, a village 150 kilometers southeast of Zahedan, capital of Sistan-Baluchestan. Faisal said: “They are in good health, being handed over to Iranian authorities.” He added efforts were being made “to recover the other guards.”
Pakistan briefed Tehran about “active efforts” to locate the abducted guards during two visits by Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif to Islamabad in one month.
Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi blamed the kidnapping on “our common enemies unhappy with the existing close, friendly relations between Pakistan and Iran.”
Sistan-Baluchestan has long been a flashpoint, with Pakistan-based Baloch separatists and jihadists carrying out regular cross-border raids against Iran.
The province has a large, mainly Sunni Muslim ethnic Baloch community, which straddles the border.
Jaish al-Adl, formed in 2012, is a successor to the Sunni extremist group Jundallah (Soldiers of God), which has carried out a spate of attacks on Iranian security forces in recent years in the southeastern province of Sistan-Baluchestan.