Deadly Attack on Foreign Nationals in Southeastern Iran

Gunmen in southeastern Iran, close to the Pakistan border, reportedly killed nine foreign nationals on Saturday, according to Iranian media. The incident occurred more than a week after both countries engaged in cross-border fire. The Mehr news agency reported that unidentified armed individuals carried out the attack in a house in the Sirkan neighborhood of Saravan city in Sistan-Baluchistan province. As of now, no group or individuals have claimed responsibility for the assault.

This violent incident follows recent military actions in the Baluchistan border region, contributing to heightened tensions exacerbated by the Israel-Hamas conflict. Sistan-Baluchistan, predominantly Sunni in the Shiite-dominated Iran, has experienced ongoing unrest involving cross-border drug-smuggling activities, Baluchi ethnic minority rebels, and jihadist elements.

On January 18, Pakistan conducted air strikes on what it described as “militant targets” in Iran, responding to Iran’s strikes on its territory two days earlier. Tehran claimed to have targeted Jaish al-Adl, a jihadist group designated as a “terrorist” organization by Iran. The Iranian strikes, which Pakistan alleged resulted in the deaths of at least two children, prompted a strong response from Islamabad, leading to the withdrawal of ambassadors and diplomatic tensions.

Despite the escalation, both countries announced last Monday their decision to de-escalate, with diplomatic missions resuming and ambassadors returning to their posts.