Iran gets attacked, and the conspiracy theories begin
Every half-hour in Pakistan seems to bring with it yet another ‘breaking news’ alert; but when Geo TV ran an announcement of a suicide attack in the Sistan-Balochistan province on the Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps, I almost didn’t believe it until they cut to Iran’s state-run channel Press TV which announced the news.
While intitial reports said that 60 people had been killed, Press TV is now reporting that 20 have been killed and 40 injured. Their website also says that two separate attacks were launched:
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.
At around the same time, another group of IRGC commanders were caught in an explosion as their convoy came under attack at a road junction in Pishin- a region situated between the two towns of Sarbaz and Chabahar.
According to Al Jazeera’s Nazinene Mosheri:
“Just three weeks before [June’s] presidential elections there was a big explosion in that area, where 25 people were killed and more than 100 injured.
The head of Jundullah said that his group carried out the attack.
The Iranian’s say that they are carrying out a duel war against drug traffickers and Jundullah, which they claim is linked to al-Qaeda.”
Moshiri said that there was no suggestion that the blast was linked to the recent disputed presidential elections.
“What is common in this area is kidnappings, explosions and clashes between Jundullah and Iranian authorities.
“But what is very interesting is that this meeting that was about to take place was with senior commanders of the Revolutionary Guard. So this was potentially an extremely important meeting.”
The most obvious perpetrator seems to be the terrorist group Jundullah, though no one has taken responsibility for the attacks as yet. Jundullah has attacked the province several times before and has an extremely murky history from its inception to its current sources of support.
From Asia Times Online:
Jundullah, which at times calls itself the “People’s Resistance Movement of Iran”, came into prominence around 2003. It was allegedly founded by Nek Mohammed Wazir, a former Pakistani Taliban leader. Its current leader, Abdel Malik Rigi, was educated in southern Pakistani port city of Karachi in the same madrassa (seminary) as a majority of the Pakistani Taliban leadership and he claims to have fought alongside the Taliban in Afghanistan. The group says that it is fighting for the rights of Iran’s roughly 4 million Balochs, which it claims have been suppressed by the Shi’ite regime in Tehran.
The group started by targeting important elements of the Iranian state presence in Sistan-Balochistan province, particularly the elite Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, but has since carried out suicide attacks against civilian targets.
Needless to say, this will cause even stronger diplomatic issues for Iran, the UK and the US as well as Iran and Pakistan, countries that have traditionally been strong allies. And if it isn’t Jundullah, then whoever is responsible clearly did a good job of adopting the former’s pattern.
Meanwhile after breaking the news, Press TV went back to its regular programming, leaving the rumours of 60 dead, who/how/what/where all hanging in the air. Who doesn’t love state-run channels?
As expected, Jundullah has taken responsibility for the attack. The Iranian ambassador in Pakistan has pointed out, yet again, that Jundullah’s chief is hiding in the Pakistani province of Balochistan and has announced that Iranian Home Ministry officials will be visiting Pakistan soon. Lest we forget, the last time Jundullah attacked, it sparked a diplomatic row.