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Pakistan launches tit-for-tat air strikes on Iran killing at least nine

Islamabad said it targeted separatist Baloch militant group, two days after Tehran carried out attack within Pakistani borders
Youth activists of Muslim Talba Mahaz (MTM) shout slogans during a protest against Iranian air strike, in Islamabad on 18 January 2024 (AFP)
Youth activists of Muslim Talba Mahaz (MTM) shout slogans during a protest against Iranian air strikes, in Islamabad on 18 January 2024 (AFP)

Pakistan launched retaliatory air strikes on Iran on Thursday, reportedly killing at least nine people, two days after Tehran struck targets within Pakistan's borders allegedly belonging to a Sunni separatist group.

Missiles hit a village near the city of Saravan in the Sistan-Baluchestan province of Iran, bordering southwest Pakistan.

Iranian state media reported that three women and four children, all of whom were non-Iranian, were among the nine people killed. 

A statement from Pakistan's foreign ministry said that "a number of terrorists were killed during the intelligence-based operation," adding that the strikes were highly coordinated "precision military strikes". 

Attempting to play down the regional implications of the strikes, the ministry said that "Pakistan fully respects the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

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"The sole objective of today's act was in pursuit of Pakistan's own security and national interest, which is paramount and cannot be compromised."

A statement from Pakistan's military said the strikes were carried out using "killer drones, rockets, loitering munitions and stand-off weapons".

It added that the targets were bases used by the Baloch Liberation Front and the Baloch Liberation Army, separatist militant groups which Islambad has accused Tehran of harbouring. 

Iran strikes on Balochi militant group in Pakistan kill two children
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The attacks came two days after Iran struck an area in Pakistan's Balochistan province along the Iranian border, which Islamabad said killed two children. 

Iran said the strikes targeted Jaish al-Adl, an ethnically Baloch Sunni militant group that has carried out attacks in Iran over recent years. 

Tehran strongly denounced Thursday's strikes, summoning Islamabad's charge d'affaires to explain.

A day earlier, Pakistan recalled its ambassador in Iran, after what it described as a "blatant breach" of its sovereignty. 

Earlier this week, Iran struck what it said were Islamic State targets in Syria, and an Israeli "espionage centre" in Iraq's Erbil. 

Tehran said the strikes were in retaliation to the 3 January attack on the Iranian city of Kerman which killed around 90 people who had gathered at a commemoration event for slain general Qassem Soleimani. 

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