Iran warns Pakistan of action against militants responsible for suicide attack on IRGC soldiers
Iran has warned Pakistan on Saturday to expect military action to "punish" militants who killed 27 Iranian Revolutionary Guards in an attack near the border unless Pakistan comes down on the fighters itself, state media reported.
"If Pakistan does not carry out its responsibilities, Iran reserves the right to confront threats on its borders ... based on international law and will retaliate to punish the terrorists," Revolutionary Guards commander Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari was quoted as saying by state news agency IRNA.
A suicide bomber killed 27 members of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards on Wednesday in a southeastern region where security forces are facing a rise in attacks by militants from the country's Sunni Muslim minority.
Responsibility for the attack was claimed by Sunni group Jaish al-Adl, which says it seeks greater rights and better living conditions for the Baluch ethnic group, who span the borders of Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Last year, Jaish al Adl said it abducted 14 members of the security forces and called for the release of Sunni scholars and political prisoners.
Five of the kidnapped soldiers were released in November after Pakistani mediation efforts.
Iranian authorities say militant groups operate from safe havens in Pakistan and have repeatedly called on the neighbouring country to crack down on them.
In the past Shia-majority Iran has accused its regional rival, Sunni-majority Saudi Arabia, of supporting militant Sunni groups which have attacked its security forces.
"They [attackers] are backed by reactionary regional states, the Saudis and the Emiratis, under orders from the Israelis and the Americans ... and we will certainly take retaliatory measures," Jafari told state television.
The remarks came amid heightening regional tensions after Israel and the Gulf Arab states attended a summit in the Polish capital Warsaw this week where the United States hoped to ratchet up pressure against Iran.