TEHRAN: Iranian forces have killed two suspected members of an armed group in a Sunni-majority southeastern region and arrested five others, a minister said, accusing Saudi Arabia of “sponsoring terrorists” in the country.
“A group of seven terrorists who wanted to attack a barracks in Chabahar [in Sistan Baluchistan province] was dismantled” on Wednesday, Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alavi said, quoted by the official news agency IRNA. “Five people, including two nationals from a neighbouring country, were arrested and two others were killed. Unfortunately, an intelligence agent was also killed,” he added.
Sistan-Baluchistan province, which borders Afghanistan and Pakistan, has seen repeated attacks by Sunni militants against the security forces of mainly Shiite Iran. A second “terrorist group” was broken up in Iranian Kurdistan in the northwest, Alavi said, without elaborating.
“Saudi Arabia is sponsoring terrorist groups in Iran,” he said.
Tensions between the regional rivals flared after twin attacks on June 7 on the parliament and the shrine of revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in Tehran in which 17 people were killed. The Islamic State jihadist group claimed responsibility.
Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard has accused Saudi Arabia of involvement in the attacks. After the assaults, dozens of suspects were arrested in Tehran and in the northwestern provinces of Kermanshah, Kurdistan and West Azerbaijan, as well as in Sistan-Baluchistan.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Tuesday also pointed the finger at Riyadh. “We have intelligence that Saudi Arabia is actively engaged in promoting terrorist groups operating on the eastern side of Iran in Baluchistan,” Zarif said in Norway.
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