Reuters: Two people including a hostage were killed during an operation to free six Iranians taken captive in a restive region of southeastern Iran, Mehr news agency reported Saturday.
TEHRAN (Reuters) – Two people including a hostage were killed during an operation to free six Iranians taken captive in a restive region of southeastern Iran, Mehr news agency reported Saturday.
The other hostages were freed, Mehr quoted the commander of the Guards’ ground forces, Mohammad Pakpour as saying. The other person killed was a hostage-taker, he said. Some people were injured, the report said, but gave no details.
The six were seized from a bus Thursday morning. Pakpour said Jundollah, a Sunni Muslim rebel group, was behind the abduction of five soldiers and a bank employee in Sistan-Baluchestan, an impoverished Iranian province bordering Pakistan and Afghanistan.
“It seems that there is a remainder of the Rigi group whose purpose is to scare people and cause division in the area and to commit extortion,” he said, referring to the former rebel leader, Abdolmalek Rigi, who was executed in June.
Jundollah killed at least 28 people, including Revolutionary Guards members, in a suicide bombing at a Shi’ite mosque in the province in July, an attack it said was a response to Rigi’s execution.
Iran says Jundollah has links to the Sunni Islamist al Qaeda and in the past has accused Pakistan, Britain and the United States of backing Jundollah to create instability in the southeast of predominantly Shi’ite Iran.
All three countries deny the accusation.
Jundollah (God’s Soldiers) says it fights for the rights of Iran’s Sunni Muslim minority and denies any association with al Qaeda.
(Writing by Ramin Mostafavi; Editing by Mark Heinrich)