Nine Pakistanis killed, three injured in firing incident in Iran amid efforts to mend ties

Pakistani soldiers wearing facemasks stand guard at the closed Pakistan-Iran border in Taftan on February 25, 2020. — AFP
Pakistani soldiers wearing facemasks stand guard at the closed Pakistan-Iran border in Taftan on February 25, 2020. — AFP
  • Incident comes as Pakistan and Iran try to restore bilateral ties. 
  • Amb Mudassir “shocked” over shooting of nine Pakistanis in Iran. 
  • Family says two victims worked at an auto-repair workshop in Iran.

A day after Pakistan and Iran officially resumed diplomatic ties following a brief strain, at least nine Pakistani citizens were killed and three sustained injuries in a firing incident near the Pakistani border in Iran, it emerged on Saturday.

As per Iranian media, nine “foreigners” were slain in an armed attack in the country’s southeastern region near the border with Pakistan. The report also stated that “no group has claimed responsibility” for the attack.

Two of the victims, who have been identified so far, were labourers hailing from Pakistan’s Lodhran area as stated by their family, while five including two brothers belonged to Tehsil Alipur of Punjab’s District Muzaffargarh. 

“Zubair and his nephew had gone to Iran for labour,” Geo News reported citing the family.

The two worked at an auto-repair workshop in Iran.

Meanwhile, the families from Alipur reached out to the tehsil’s assistant commissioner and demanded help in return for the victims’ mortal remains.

Speaking to Geo News, a friend of one of the victims said that the incident took place in the wee hours of Saturday, around 2:30am. He said that three people were injured in the shooting.

The unfortunate incident came as a jolt in the neighbouring countries’ efforts to mend bilateral ties following a short but aggressive episode of cross-border tensions that arose after Iran’s surprise attack targeted at a militant outfit inside Pakistan.

Pakistani Ambassador to Iran Muhammad Muddasir Tipu, who landed in Iran’s capital on Friday night, also confirmed the shooting of nine Pakistanis in a post on microblogging site X, formerly known as Twitter.

According to the envoy, the incident took place in the Iranian city of Saravan, which is located in Sistan-Baluchistan, Iran’s bordering province with Balochistan.

“Deeply shocked by [the] horrifying killing of 9 Pakistanis in Saravan. [The] Embassy will extend full support to bereaved families,” Amb Mudassir wrote.

In the tweet, he said that an official was also sent to visit the site of the incident and the hospital where the “injured” were being treated.

The envoy also stated that the Pakistani authorities have called upon Iran to extend full cooperation in the matter.

‘Horrifying and despicable’

In response to media queries regarding reports of a terrorist incident killing Pakistani nationals in Iran, Foreign Office spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch condemned the “horrifying and despicable incident”.

She said that the FO was in touch with Iranian authorities and underscored the need to immediately investigate the incident and hold to account those involved in this heinous crime.

Baloch added that the embassy would do its best to repatriate bodies at the earliest.

“Such cowardly attacks cannot deter Pakistan from its determination to fight terrorism,” she said.

The Pakistani and Iranian diplomats joined their duties in Tehran and Islamabad, respectively, after returning to the capitals late on Friday.

The neighbouring countries had shortly halted diplomatic ties, recalling their envoys, after an “unprovoked” cross-border attack from Iran, which followed the “precision military strikes” on terrorists’ hideouts in Sistan-Baluchestan by Pakistan as a response.

Returning to Tehran, Amb Mudassir had pledged stronger ties with Iran on Pakistan’s behalf.

Pakistan and Iran majorly share brotherly ties apart from the clashes taking place in the bordering region that joins Sistan-Baluchestan with Balochistan, where separatist-militant outfits operate against the security forces.

But the Iranian strike on Pakistan drew a rapid military riposte and raised fears of greater regional turmoil amid existing tensions in the wake of Israel-Hamas war. 

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