Iran's Revolutionary Guards kill four Sunni militants near Pakistan border

LONDON (Reuters) - Iran’s Revolutionary Guards said on Friday they had killed four militants at a border crossing with Pakistan in an area where armed Sunni groups often attack military and civilian targets.

Iran has stepped up security in border areas after five gunmen killed 25 people at a military parade in the southwest on Saturday. The incident reported on Friday happened on the other side of the country in Sistan-Baluchestan province.

“Iranian forces killed four terrorists and wounded two. Other members of the terrorist group fled to the neighboring country (Pakistan),” the Revolutionary Guard Corps said in a statement published by state broadcaster IRIB.

No Iranian forces were harmed, it said.

The Guards said the group was linked to the “world’s arrogant power”, without elaborating. Tehran accuses the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia of funding Sunni militants, something they deny.

Brigadier General Mohammad Pakpour, the head of the Guards ground forces, was quoted by Tasnim news agency as identifying the group as Jaish al-Adl, and said its second-in-command was among the dead.

Jaish al-Adl (the Army of Justice) is a Sunni militant group that has carried out several attacks on Iranian security forces mainly in Sistan-Baluchestan. It claimed responsibility for an attack that killed 10 border guards near Pakistan in 2017.

In a clash between Jaish al-Adl and security forces in June, three Iranian soldiers and three militants were killed.

The mainly Sunni province of Sistan-Baluchestan has long been plagued by unrest from both drug smuggling gangs and separatist militants.

Iran says militant groups have safe havens in Pakistan and has warned it will hit their bases there if Islamabad does not confront them.

Reporting by Bozorgmehr Sharafedin; Editing by Robin Pomeroy