A suicide bomber killed 27 members of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards in a southeastern region where security forces are facing a rise in attacks by militants from the country’s Sunni Muslim minority, Reuters reports.
The Sunni group Jaish al Adl (Army of Justice), which says it seeks greater rights and better living conditions for the ethnic minority Baluchis, claimed responsibility for the attack, according to the semi-official Fars news agency.
The heavy losses among Iran’s premier military force prompted a senior Revolutionary Guards commander to issue a warning to the country’s foes.
“Our response in defense of the Islamic Revolution will not be limited to our borders,” Ali Fadavi was quoted as saying by Fars.
“The enemies will receive a very firm response from the Revolutionary Guards like before.” He did not specify which enemies or what actions Tehran would take.
In the past, Iran has accused its regional rival, Sunni Arab Saudi Arabia, of supporting Sunni separatist groups who have attacked its security forces. Riyadh has denied the charges.
Iran’s Shi’ite Muslim authorities say militant groups operate from safe havens in Pakistan and have repeatedly called on the neighboring country to crack down on them.
A suicide bomber driving a vehicle laden with explosives attacked a bus transporting members of the Guards on Wednesday, the force said in a statement. Thirteen people were wounded.
A video posted by Fars showed blood and debris at the site of the attack on a road in a volatile area near the Pakistan border where militants and armed drug smugglers operate.
The bus was turned into a twisted pile of metal, a photo published on Fars showed. Reuters could not independently verify the image.
While Sunni militant groups are not regarded as a major threat, the attack dealt a fresh blow to Iran’s security establishment, which has often said it can repel any threat no matter how big, even from the United States and its ally Israel.
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