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Iran increased pressure on Pakistan on Oct. 20, saying the group accused of carrying out a suicide bombing that killed top commanders of the elite Revolutionary Guards is based in Pakistani territory.
CA Online and wire services
TEHRAN — Iran increased pressure on Pakistan on Oct. 20, saying the group accused of carrying out a suicide bombing that killed top commanders of the elite Revolutionary Guards is based in Pakistani territory. Islamabad strongly denied the allegations.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said members of the group accused of mounting the Oct. 18 attack in the south-eastern Sistan-Baluchistan province regularly cross into Iran from Pakistan.
"They cross into Iran illegally. They are based in Pakistan," Mottaki said without directly naming the group. "The hands of those behind the crimes in southeast Iran must be cut."
Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokesman Abdul Basit dismissed allegations that his country is being used by militants as a springboard to launch attacks in Iran.
"There is no question, given the excellent relations between us, that Pakistani territory be allowed to be used for terrorist acts against Iran," Basit told AFP. "There are forces which are out to spoil our relations with Iran. But our ties are strong enough to counter these schemes."
Iranian Intelligence Minister Heyder Moslehi, however, demanded that Pakistan "clarify" its position over Jundallah (Soldiers of God), a shadowy rebel Sunni group led by militant Abdolmalek Rigi, which has claimed responsibility for the attack.
Meanwhile, a prosecutor said three Iranians have been arrested over the attack that hit the heart of Iran's security apparatus, and that a man who accompanied the suicide bomber was being sought.
"For security reasons, I cannot reveal their names, but these terrorists are Iranians," Mohammad Marziah, prosecutor in Zahedan, the capital of Sistan-Baluchistan province, told the Fars news agency.
Officials said 42 people died in the blast in the town of Pishin. State television reported on Tuesday that 15 Guards members were among the dead.
Hundreds of people have died since Baluchi rebels rebelled in 2004 against Islamabad, demanding political autonomy and a greater share of profits from the region's wealth of natural resources.