March 23, 2019
Four Iranian borders guards freed in Pakistan on the eve of the Iranian New Year March 20, returned home on Friday, March 22, local news outlets reported.
They were welcomed by several commanders of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), including its infantry commander, Brigadier General Mohammad Pakpour.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman, Bahram Ghasemi, expressed his gratitude to the Pakistani government and army for helping their release.
“I hope that the remaining abductees will be freed and return to Iran as soon as possible,” he said.
Fifteen Iranian Basijis (volunteer forces serving under the command of the IRGC) and border guards were kidnapped by an insurgent Baluchi group on October 15, 2018, near the Iran-Pakistan border.
According to Jaish ul-Adl, a militant Sunni group opposed to the Islamic Republic of Iran, the border guards, serving at an outpost in the city of Mirjaveh, southeast Iran, were “captured” by the group.
IRGC Chief Commander Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari claimed at the time the guards were first drugged and then kidnapped.
However, five of the border guards were later released through the efforts of the Pakistani government on November 15, 2018.
Jaish ul-Adl, which claims to be fighting for the Sunni Baluch minority’s rights in Iran, has repeatedly attacked Iranian border guards, killing or taking them hostage in Iran’s second-largest province, Sistan&Baluchestan, bordering Pakistan.
Iranian authorities maintain that Jaish ul-Adl is a terrorist group related to “foreign governments.”
Following the release of the four border guards on Wednesday, Commander of IRGC Ground Force Brigadier General Mohammad Pakpour said that there are still six others held by Jaish al-Adl in Pakistan.
In a statement on Thursday, Pakistan Army said that it had freed four Iranian border guards in Chaghi district, in Pakistan’s province of Balochistan.
The southern part of Iran’s Sistan and Baluchestan, bordering Pakistan, has been the scene of frequent clashes between Sunni Baluch militants and the Islamic Republic’s forces.
The Islamic Republic’s security forces also frequently clash with drug traffickers in the area, which is located on a major smuggling route for Afghan opium and heroin.
Tehran has repeatedly accused Islamabad of “standing idly by, ignoring the fact that Pakistan has been turned into a safe haven for armed groups to attack Iran.”