9 Pakistani labourers shot dead in Iran; Pakistan seeks comprehensive investigation

Pakistan demands investigation into killing of 9 nationals in Iran
Representative image
Representative image

Islamabad | Pakistan has sought a comprehensive investigation into the killing of nine of its nationals in a brutal attack in Iran that occurred days after the tensions between the two nations following a tit-for-tat cross-border fire.

Nine Pakistani workers were gunned down and three others were injured by unidentified attackers who opened indiscriminate fire on them in Iran’s Sistan-Baluchestan province near the border with Pakistan on Saturday.

Iran’s Mehr news agency reported that “according to witnesses, unknown armed men killed nine non-Iranians in a house in the Sirkan neighbourhood of Saravan city” in Sistan-Baluchestan province.

No group or individual immediately claimed res­p­o­nsibility for the attack.

Pakistan's Foreign Office has demanded a comprehensive investigation into the attack and swift prosecution of those responsible for it.

“We are in touch with Iranian authorities and have underscored the need to immediately investigate the incident and hold to account those involved in this heinous crime,” FO spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch said and condemned the “horrifying and despicable” attack.

She said Pakistan’s consul in Zahedan was en route to the hospital to assist the injured and was expected to arrive within a few hours due to the considerable distance and security challenges.

The Pakistani diplomat was also scheduled to meet local authorities to demand decisive action against the perpetrators.

After the news of their deaths spread, the relatives of the victims protested in front of the assistant commissioner’s office in Alipur and appealed to the government of Pakistan to ensure the return of the bodies of their loved ones to Muzaffargarh.

Baloch said that efforts were underway to facilitate the prompt repatriation of the remains of those killed in the attack.

“This cowardly attack does not diminish Pakistan’s resolve to combat terrorism,” she added.

Pakistan’s ambassador to Iran Muddasir Tipu, expressed his shock over the killings, ensuring full support to the families of the bereaved.

“We have called upon Iran for full cooperation in this matter,” Tipu posted on X.

The incident comes just a day before the Iranian foreign minister visits Islamabad, which is expected to include discussions on border security and the challenge of militant sanctuaries along the shared border.

This incident, which occurred within a week of the tit-for-tat strikes by Iran and Pakistan in each other's territories, is likely to add to the tension between the two countries.

Tensions escalated between Islamabad and Tehran after Pakistan on January 18 conducted "precision military strikes" against what it called "terrorist hideouts" in Iran's Sistan-Baluchistan province that killed 9 people.

The attack was seen as retaliation to Iranian missile and drone attacks last Tuesday on two bases of the Sunni Baloch militant group Jaish al-Adl in Pakistan's unruly Balochistan province.

Amid tensions, Pakistan recalled its ambassador from Tehran and blocked Iran’s envoy from returning to Islamabad.

Tehran also summoned Islamabad’s charge d’affaires over Pakistan’s strikes.

The two countries, however, announced last Monday that they had decided to de-escalate and resume diplomatic missions with the two ambassadors returning to their posts.

Saturday's killings were carried out in the same region where Pakistan had recently hit Baloch insurgent sanctuaries in its retaliatory strikes.

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