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Iran: Local leaders and military commanders killed in blast

Two separate explosions in southeastern Iran have killed civilians and military personnel. PressTV covers the story:

The first attack took place at a unity gathering of Shia and Sunni tribal leaders on Sunday morning, in the Pishin area, a region situated in the borderline Province of Sistan-Balouchestan.

Reports indicate that provincial IRGC commanders Brigadier Nour-Ali Shoushtari and Brigadier Rajab-Ali Mohammadzadeh were among those who lost their lives in the attack.

Several tribal leaders and recognized local figures from both the Shia and Sunni communities were killed in the attack.

Jundullah has claimed responsibility for this attack. Jundullah is a Baluch insurgency that is active in Iran and Pakistan.

Also on Sunday and in Pishin, a Revolutionary Guard/IRGC convoy was caught in a roadside explosion. Iran’s border and military personnel have been for years now facing off against insurgency attacks near the border with Pakistan.

ABC on Jundullah:

A Pakistani tribal militant group responsible for a series of deadly guerrilla raids inside Iran has been secretly encouraged and advised by American officials since 2005, U.S. and Pakistani intelligence sources tell ABC News.

…U.S. officials say the U.S. relationship with Jundullah is arranged so that the U.S. provides no funding to the group, which would require an official presidential order or “finding” as well as congressional oversight.

…Pakistani government sources say the secret campaign against Iran by Jundullah was on the agenda when Vice President Dick Cheney met with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf in February (2007).

A senior U.S. government official said groups such as Jundullah have been helpful in tracking al Qaeda figures and that it was appropriate for the U.S. to deal with such groups in that context.

Some former CIA officers say the arrangement is reminiscent of how the U.S. government used proxy armies, funded by other countries including Saudi Arabia, to destabilize the government of Nicaragua in the 1980s.

Jundullah operations out of Pakistan into Iran has also served to raise tensions between officials of these two countries. Iran often accuses Pakistan of inaction. An Asia Times report covers this. Referring to a Jundullah attack in 2008, the article outlines the following:

The Zahedan attack therefore proved to be a watershed of sorts in bilateral relations. Tehran apparently had alerted Islamabad in advance about the possibility of the attack and requested the latter’s authorities crack down on Jundullah on Pakistani territory as a pre-emptive measure. Hence, when the Zahedan attack happened, Iran made unprecedented diplomatic maneuvers. It not only lodged a strong protest with Islamabad, but the Iranian ambassador to Pakistan called a press conference and lambasted the Pakistani authorities for inaction.

Within days, Iran closed its border with Pakistan. Bilateral relations plunged to unprecedented depths. For Pakistan, which has border disputes and hostile relations with two of its three neighbors – India and Afghanistan – the Iranian moves could not have come at a worse time.

Pakistan felt particularly misunderstood since, after the civilian government came to power in 2008, it had initiated some amount of internal action against Jundullah – although this action was largely confined to the urban areas in Pakistan rather than the border areas from where Jundullah operated.

The Iranian province of Sistan-Baluchistan is home to Baluch ethnic minority, who are Sunni. The province is impoverished and politically marginalized. Local movements have demanded economic help from the central government, as well as fair political representation. New currents have developed into independence movements, though these sometimes militant movements appear to be based out of Pakistan

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