Attack on Iran-Pakistan border leaves 2 dead

Security issues are complicating Iran’s relations with Pakistan, and there has also been violence on the Iran-Afghanistan border recently.

There was another deadly attack on Iran’s border with Pakistan on Thursday, further complicating both countries’ efforts to improve relations.

The Pakistani military said unspecified “terrorists” attacked security forces in the Kech district in southwestern Baluchistan province, near the border with Iran. Security forces engaged in a firefight with the attackers and two Pakistanis were killed in the exchange, according to the military’s Inter-Services Public Relations.

Iran’s embassy in Islamabad condemned the attack on Twitter.

It strongly condemns the terrorists attack aginst Pakistani security forces in #Balochistan, Kech. We pay tribute to the brave soldiers who embraced Shahadah & extend Our Condolences to the families who lost loved ones. Being a common pain, Mutual Coop needed to combat terrorism.

— Embassy of Islamic Republic of Iran- Islamabad (@IraninIslamabad) June 1, 2023

The Pakistani military said security forces began a search for the perpetrators and are in contact with Iranian authorities on the matter.

Why it matters: Security issues on the Iran-Pakistan border are not new. Late last month, five Iranian border guards were killed and two others wounded in clashes with another unknown armed group in Sistan and Baluchistan province. The gunmen were seeking to enter Iran but fled back toward Pakistan. An Iranian commander vowed a “decisive and crushing response” to the attack, the semi-official Fars News Agency reported.

In April, the Pakistani military said four soldiers were killed, also in Kech, by an unspecified group that was operating in Iran.

Iran-Pakistan relations have been negatively affected by the border security issues. Trade has suffered due to the clashes and both countries accuse each other of harboring militants, Sabena Siddiqui reported for Al-Monitor in May.

The two countries are seeking to improve relations despite the security challenges. In May, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi met Pakistani Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif in Pakistani Baluchistan to inaugurate an electricity line between the two countries. It was the first such meeting since 2013, according to The Associated Press.

Pakistani Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari told Iran’s official Islamic Republic News Agency last week that the two countries “will not allow the saboteurs” to harm bilateral relations.

Iran and Pakistan have also been discussing a gas pipeline for several years, though the project has yet to come to fruition.

Both the recent attacks occurred in the historical Balochistan region that is part of both Iran and Pakistan. Some Balochi separatist and Islamist groups have been fighting Iran and Pakistan for many years in the region.

Know more: There has also been trouble on Iran’s border with Afghanistan recently. Last Saturday, two people were killed in clashes between Iranian and Taliban forces on the border. The tensions between Iran and the Taliban relate to water supply, Al-Monitor’s corespondent in Tehran reported last month.