TEHRAN: At least five Iranian police officers were killed on Tuesday in an attack in the restive Sistan-Baluchistan province in the country’s southeast, state TV reported.

Local media reported that Jaish al-Adl had claimed responsibility for the shooting, but a local official said criminal gangs were to blame.

“A number of armed miscreants in the region attacked a police patrol,” Alireza Marhamati, deputy governor of Sistan-Baluchistan province told state TV.

“Five of our dear policemen were martyred and one person was injured there,” he said.

Marhamati added that security forces were looking for the attackers, insisting they were not Jaish al-Adl members.

“It is not their job,” he said, arguing the jihadists had claimed the attack “to make themselves bigger”.

According to Iranian news agency Tasnim, two police vehicles came under fire along a road in Sistan-Baluchistan, long plagued by unrest involving drug-smuggling gangs, rebels from the Baluch and Sunni extremists.

Last week militants from Jaish al-Adl — branded a “terrorist” organisation by Iran and the United States — killed 16 security personnel in one of their deadliest attacks in years, also in Sistan-Baluchistan.

The fatalities included law enforcement officials, members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and paramilitary Basij forces, according to a Tasnim report which said US weapons and technology were seized from the “terrorists”.State media said that Iranian police had arrested three suspected members of the militant Islamic State group over plans to carry out attacks at the end of Ramazan.

Official news agency IRNA reported that the arrests had been made in the northwestern city of Karaj but did not specify when or elaborate on the suspects’ identities.

Published in Dawn, April 10th, 2024

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