South Asia

Pakistan strikes inside Iran against militant targets, stoking regional tensions

Photo: Reuters

Pakistan conducted strikes inside Iran on Thursday, targeting separatist Baloch militants, according to the Pakistani Foreign Ministry. This action occurred two days after Tehran claimed to have attacked bases of another group within Pakistani territory. These incidents mark the most significant cross-border intrusions in recent years and have heightened regional tensions.

The exchange between Iran and Pakistan comes amid broader Middle East instability, exacerbated by the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas that began on Oct. 7. This conflict has drawn involvement from Iran’s allies in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Yemen.

Iranian media reported that several missiles struck a village in the Sistan-Baluchestan province, bordering Pakistan, resulting in at least nine fatalities. Initial reports indicated the casualties included three women and four children, all non-Iranians.

Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry described the operation as “a series of highly coordinated and specifically targeted precision military strikes against terrorist hideouts.” The ministry emphasized Pakistan’s respect for Iran’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, stating the action was solely for Pakistan’s security and national interest.

Following the strikes, Tehran requested an explanation from Islamabad, as reported by Iran’s Tasnim news agency. Iran also summoned Pakistan’s charge d’affaires in Tehran.

Pakistan’s caretaker Prime Minister, Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar, is cutting short his visit to the World Economic Forum in Davos to return home, a foreign ministry spokesperson announced.

A Pakistani intelligence source informed Reuters that the strikes were conducted by military aircraft targeting Baloch militants in Iran. These militants are allegedly part of the Baloch Liberation Front (BLF), which seeks independence for Pakistan’s Balochistan province.

On Tuesday, Iran announced it had targeted Israel-linked militant bases inside Pakistan. Both targeted groups are ethnically Baloch, but it is unclear if they cooperate. Pakistan reported civilian casualties, including two children, and warned of repercussions for which Tehran would be held responsible.

In response to Iran’s actions, Islamabad recalled its ambassador from Iran on Wednesday, condemning the strikes as a “blatant breach” of its sovereignty.