August 11, 2008 / 6:29 PM / 10 years ago

Iran Sunni rebels kill 2 hostages, abduct 3 - TV

DUBAI, Aug 11 (Reuters) - Iranian Sunni rebels holding a group of policemen hostage said they have killed two of them and also abducted three Revolutionary Guards officers, Al Arabiya television reported on Monday.

Arabiya, citing a spokesman of Jundollah (God’s Soldiers), said the rebels killed the two men after "the failure of contacts between the Iranian government and Jundollah".

Jundollah, which the government of Shi’ite-dominated Iran has accused of having links to al Qaeda, abducted 16 policemen in June and has already killed at least four of them.

The Revolutionary Guards officers, including a colonel and a major, were abducted on Sunday, the spokesman told the Dubai-based news network in a telephone call.

The rebels operate mostly in Sistan-Baluchestan, a volatile region near the border with Pakistan, home to Iran’s mostly Sunni ethnic Baluchis.

The Revolutionary Guards are an ideological arm of Iran’s armed forces with a separate command structure to the regular military. One of their duties is guarding vital border areas.

The leader of the rebels, Abdolmalek Rigi, told Arabiya earlier this month that his faction was willing to talk to the government and turn itself into a political party.

But he also said it was thinking of expanding its operations to defend the rights of Sunni Muslims in Iran, even into Tehran. (Reporting by Inal Ersan)

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