A suicide attack by a Sunni armed group has killed at least twenty-seven members of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC). The attack took place on Wednesday near the Pakistan border in the southeast, as reported by the semi-state Fars News Agency and the private Tasnim News Agency.
The Sunni militants, called Jaish al Adl (Army of Justice), who are increasing attacks in the region, motivated by the demand of more rights for the Sunni minority, Baluchis, claimed responsibility for the attack, according to the report.
The IRGC, a branch of Iran’s Armed Forces, claimed that a suicide bomber drove a vehicle filled with explosives alongside a bus that was carrying Iran’s elite force members on the road between the two border cities of Zahedan and Khash, where drug smugglers and other armed groups operate. The explosives were then detonated, killing at least 27 and injuring 13, according to local media.
The IRGC is regarded as the most powerful and effective force in Iran, which was founded by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei following the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran. The Guards Corps has an estimated 125,000 soldiers who also operate in countries such as Iraq and Syria in an effort to follow Tehran’s interest in the region.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, commented on the coincidence of the attack taking place at the same time as a scheduled US-sponsored Middle East conference in Warsaw (February 13 and 14), where peace, security, terrorism, and missile development in the region will be discussed.
“Is it no coincidence that Iran is hit by terror on the very day that #WarsawCircus begins?”Zarif tweeted. “Especially when cohorts of same terrorists cheer it from Warsaw streets & support it with Twitter bots? The US seems to always make the same wrong choices, but expect different results,” he added, hinting at Washington’s responsibility.
Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman, Bahram Qassemi, told Fars News Agency that “they will take revenge for the blood of the martyrs.” Qassemi blamed neighbouring countries for the attack, claiming the Sunni group launched it with their military and economic support. However, he did not name a specific country.
According to Fars, a senior Revolutionary Guard commander also said, “Our response in defence of the Islamic Revolution will not be limited to our borders.”
The governorship of the Sistan-Baluchistan province declared a three-day period of mourning after the attack.
Jaish al Adl also took responsibility for the kidnapping of 10 Iranian security personnel in October last year. Some were released soon after. Another attack that occurred last September took place during a military parade in southwestern Iran and killed 25 people, including Revolutionary Guard members.