Rebels kill 12 Iranian security forces: judiciary

Ambushed in volatile Sistan-Baluchestan province


Rebels have killed 12 members of the Iranian security forces in an ambush in the restive southeast, judiciary spokesman Ali Reza Jamshidi said on Tuesday.

"They were on a mission and they fell into a rebel ambush. Tragically, the 12 were killed," Jamshidi said, adding that the attack happened in Saravan in Sistan-Baluchestan province near the border with Pakistan.

He said those behind the attack had escaped.

On Monday, the Fars news agency reported that rebels had attacked a border patrol van on Sunday afternoon killing several policemen and fled back across the border to Pakistan.

According to Fars, the attack was in retaliation for the Iranian law enforcement troops' recent strikes on the militants' positions.

Iranian police have clashed with rebel groups, in particular the Sunni Muslim Jundullah (Soldiers of God) as well as drug smugglers, in the volatile province which lies on a major narcotics-smuggling route from Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The Sunni group has been blamed for a string of attacks and kidnappings in the province, which is home to a large ethnic Baluch community.

The rebel group, headed by Abdolmalek Rigi, said in December that it had killed all 16 Iranian policemen it seized in Saravan in June last year.

On December 29, two Iranian policemen were killed and 10 others wounded in a rare suicide attack in Saravan.