TEHRAN: Tehran on Wednesday issued a warning to Islamabad after reports emerged that an Iranian soldier abducted and taken across the border into Pakistan by the militants had been executed.
President Hassan Rouhani in a telephone call with Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif demanded “serious and swift action” by Pakistan to secure the release of the soldiers.
“We expect to hear good news in this regard,” he said, while calling for “joint action by both countries against terrorists,” the official IRNA news agency reported.
For his part, Sharif said the issue was of “utmost importance” to his government and that he was “prepared to boost action to free the soldiers.”
Earlier, Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif expressed “grave concern” about the fate of Jamshid Danayifar, who was kidnapped along with four other border guards on February 6 by rebel group Jaish Al-Adl.
“We did all we could to secure their release,” Zarif told the state television after a cabinet meeting. “But it is disappointing that the Pakistani government has failed to secure its borders, and allows terrorists to operate on its soil.”
Zarif's remarks came after his ministry summoned Pakistani ambassador Nour Mohammad Jadmani, demanding “swift and serious action” to secure the release of the soldiers, the official IRNA news agency reported.
Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani-Fazli meanwhile warned – without elaborating – that Iran “reserves the right to utilise all its ability in its border areas.”
Jaish Al-Adl said on its website on Sunday that Danayifar had been killed, warning of further executions should Tehran refuse to “release Sunni prisoners.”
Iran's interior ministry says it is awaiting Islamabad's official position amid media reports that local Pakistani authorities have confirmed the group's claim.
The rebel group, which took up arms in 2012 to fight for what it says are the rights of Iran's minority Sunni population, is active in the restive Sistan-Balochistan province that borders both Pakistan and Afghanistan.
In November it claimed responsibility for killing a local prosecutor, a month after its rebels killed 14 Iranian border guards in an ambush.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon condemned in a Tuesday statement the reported killing as an “appalling act” and urged that the perpetrators are brought to justice.
A spokesman for the US State Department, Alan Eyre, called for the “swift release” of the abducted soldiers while expressing hope the reported execution – that came as Iran was celebrating its Persian New Year, Nowruz – was not true.
Shortly after the abduction, Iranians launched a campaign on Twitter, despite the micro-blogging service being banned in Iran.
Demanding the soldiers' release, the FreeIranianSoldiers hashtag went viral in February.
Some Iranians have used social media to hit out at the Tehran government for its inability to bring home the young soldiers, who were serving their 24-month mandatory military service.
Border guards chief Hossein Zolfaghari has admitted that there was “negligence” in the lead-up to the kidnapping, saying those responsible were suspended, with some facing prosecution.
Iran border firing injures woman; Pakistan protest
A woman was injured when Iranian border guards opened fire at a Pakistani village near Taftan on Wednesday night, an official said.
Spokesman Frontier Corps, Khan Wasey said that Iranian border guards opened gunfire at a Pakistani village Talab near the border. He said the woman received bullet injuries and was evacuated to Taftan Hospital for medical treatment.
“The woman was working inside her house, when Iranian border guards opened fire,” Wasey said.
Border violation by Iranian border guards prompted the Pakistani officials to lodge a protest with their Iranian counterparts.
“Deputy Commissioner Chaghi has lodged protest with Iranian counterparts,” Wasey said.– Syed Ali Shah