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Iran Hangs 16 Prisoners In Reported Retaliation For Border Attack

Iran has hanged 16 militant prisoners in what is being called retaliation for an attack that killed more than a dozen Iranian guards near the country's border with Pakistan, according to Iran's state-affiliated media. The country is also blaming Pakistan for what it calls lax security.

NPR's Peter Kenyon filed this report for our Newscast unit:

"FARS news agency quoted a local official in the restive Sistan-Baluchistan province as saying 16 'rebels' had been hanged in reaction to the killing of the border guards Friday night in the Saravan region, known to be used by smugglers and drug traffickers.

"A group calling itself Jeish al-Adl, or Army of Justice, took credit for the attack, according to state media accounts, although the group's website appeared to describe the attack as having taken place earlier this month. Iran's deputy interior minister described the attack as an ambush by Iranians 'belonging to hostile groups.'

"The commander of the border guards said none of his men was taken hostage, contradicting earlier reports."

The AP notes that the FARS report didn't detail the prisoners' affiliation with a militant group; it also didn't mention a trial, "suggesting the prisoners may already have been convicted and sentenced to death, and their executions moved up after the ambush," the agency says.

After the attack, the deputy governor-general of Sistan and Baluchestan, Rajabali Sheikhzadeh, expressed frustration with Pakistan, citing poor security measures.

"Pakistan should feel responsible for its borders because these outlaws have fled into Pakistan after the clashes," Sheikhzadeh tells FARS.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.
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