TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran said on Wednesday it had killed five members of a Kurdish guerilla group in the westerly Kermanshah province, semi-official Fars news agency reported.
Ali Akbar Nouri, a commander of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards, said the five, including two women, were members of the Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK).
“Two other members of the group were injured during the clashes on Tuesday but managed to escape,” said Nouri.
Iranian security forces often clash with guerrillas from PJAK, an offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which took up arms in 1984 for an autonomous ethnic state in southeast Turkey and shelters in Iraq’s northeastern border provinces.
Like Iraq and Turkey, Iran has a large Kurdish minority, mainly living in the northwest and west.
Sectarian violence is relatively rare in Iran, whose leaders reject allegations by Western rights groups that it discriminates against ethnic and religious minorities.
Iran accuses the United States and Israel, which Tehran refuses to recognize, of supporting “terrorists”. The United States dismisses the claim.
“Presence of foreign troops in Iraq ... helps the terrorist groups to create instability in the area,” said Nouri.
Iran is also at odds with the West over its nuclear program, which Washington and its European allies fear is a cover to build bombs. Iran denies any such intention.
Writing by Parisa Hafezi; Editing by Louise Ireland