Iran General NewsClash in Iranian border area kills eight - report

Clash in Iranian border area kills eight – report

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ImageReuters: Eight people died in fighting between gunmen and a religious militia in northwestern Iran near Turkey and Iraq, a government daily reported on Wednesday.

ImageTEHRAN, May 13 (Reuters) – Eight people died in fighting between gunmen and a religious militia in northwestern Iran near Turkey and Iraq, a government daily reported on Wednesday.

Kurdish separatist guerrillas based in remote mountainous areas in Iraq close to the borders with Turkey and Iran have long been a source of regional instability.

The Kayhan daily said five "bandits" were among those killed in the latest violence, without giving details on their identity or saying when the incident took place.

Three members of the Basij militia, which is affiliated to Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards, were also killed, it said.

Iranian security forces often clash with guerrillas from the Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK), an offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) which took up arms in 1984 for an ethnic homeland in southeast Turkey.

Like Iraq and Turkey, Iran has a large Kurdish minority, mainly living in the country's northwest and west.

Iran urged Iraq on Monday to "pay special attention" to armed groups operating in border areas, a week after Baghdad condemned Iranian shelling of villages in Iraq's northern Kurdistan region.

Last week, Iraq said it had summoned Iran's ambassador to Baghdad and warned of "negative consequences" if such attacks continued. Tehran has neither confirmed nor denied the reported cross-border attacks.

Iran sees PJAK, which seeks autonomy for Kurdish areas in Iran and shelters in Iraq's northeastern border provinces, as a terrorist group. The United States, Iran's arch foe, in February also branded PJAK as a terrorist organisation.

The Turkish military conducted a major incursion last year against PKK militants in northern Iraq and Turkish warplanes have since carried out regular cross-border bombing raids against the group's targets in the mountainous region. (Writing by Fredrik Dahl)

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