(CNN) — Pakistan struck seven locations inside Iran, a Pakistani security official told CNN on Thursday, the latest incident on their shared border that has escalated tensions between the two neighbours.
At least seven people were killed after explosions in southwestern Iran’s Sistan and Baluchestan province early Thursday, according to the province’s deputy governor, Alireza Marhamati, in an interview on state television.
Marhamati said the dead included three women and four children, who were foreign nationals.
“At 4:30 a.m. local time, explosions were heard in a border village and several missiles were fired at the village,” Marhamati said.
The lieutenant governor said another explosion occurred near the town of Sarwan, but there were no casualties from that second explosion.
Iranian state media reported explosions around Saravan, while a Pakistani security official told CNN that Pakistan carried out the attacks in Iran.
Iranian state media IRNA said security officials were investigating. CNN has contacted Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry.
Both Pakistan and Iran have long battled militants in the restive Balochistan region along their 900-km border, but the latest incident reflects a major tension between the two neighboring powers and comes amid growing regional hostilities in the Middle East and Israel’s ongoing But it has come to the fore in the form of increasing war. In Gaza.
A day before Pakistan’s missile launch, Iran said it had fired “precision missiles” to destroy two strongholds of Sunni militant group Jaish al-Adl in Pakistan’s southwestern Balochistan province, according to Iranian state-affiliated Tasnim news agency. and drone strikes”.
Two children were killed and several others were injured in the attack, according to local officials and Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry, which described the attack as an “unprovoked violation of its airspace by Iran” and warned of “serious consequences” for Iran.
It also triggered a diplomatic spat with Pakistan on Wednesday by recalling its ambassador from Iran and suspending all high-level Iranian visits.
A spokesman for Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry said that the Iranian ambassador to Pakistan should not return from his current visit to Iran and warned that “Pakistan reserves the right to respond to this illegal act.”
Iran has defended the attacks and appeared to be trying to calm tensions with its nuclear-armed neighbor.
Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said that his country was only attacking Iranian “terrorists” on Pakistani soil and that “no citizen of a friendly country of Pakistan was attacked by Iranian missiles and drones.”
A Foreign Office spokesman had previously defended the strikes as a “precise and targeted” operation to prevent security threats.
But Pakistani Foreign Minister Khalil Abbas Jilani told his Iranian counterpart that the deadly attack inside Pakistani territory had seriously damaged relations between the two countries.
“The External Affairs Minister strongly underlined that the attack by Iran inside Pakistani territory on January 16, 2024 was not only a serious violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty, but also a gross violation of international law and the spirit of bilateral relations between Pakistan and Iran Was. ,” the ministry said.
Jilani also warned that unilateral action could undermine regional security, with his office saying terrorism is a common threat that must be addressed through coordinated efforts.
The Baloch people live where Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran meet. They have always resented being ruled by both Islamabad and Tehran and the insurgency has been growing in the border area that has been open for decades.
The area in which they live is also rich in natural resources and Baloch separatists complain that their people, who are some of the poorest in the region, have had little access to money from their communities.
Jaish al-Adl, or Justice Army, which Iran attacked on Tuesday, is a separatist terrorist group that operates on both sides of the border and has previously claimed responsibility for attacks on Iranian targets.
Its stated objective is the independence of Pakistan’s neighboring Iranian province of Sistan and Baluchistan.
On Wednesday, it claimed responsibility for an attack on an Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) vehicle in Sistan and Baluchestan, which killed one of its colonels, according to Iranian state media.