Paramilitary soldiers wear face masks as they stand in front of a closed gate of Pakistan's border post, after Pakistan sealed its border with Iran as a preventive measure following the coronavirus outbreak, at the border post in Taftan, Pakistan February 25, 2020. REUTERS/Naseer Ahmed

Suspected Sunni Muslim militants killed at least 11 Iranian security force members and suffered 16 fatalities in attacks on Iran‘s Revolutionary Guards headquarters in the southeastern province of Sistan-Baluchestan, state media said on Thursday.

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The overnight clashes between the Jaish al-Adl group and security forces took place in the towns of Chabahar and Rask, state TV said.

“The terrorists failed to succeed achieving their goal of seizing the Guards headquarters in Chabahar and Rask,” deputy Interior Minister Majid Mirahmadi told state TV.

State TV said 10 other security officers were also injured in the fighting in the impoverished region, which has a predominantly Sunni Muslim population.

Jaish al-Adl says it seeks greater rights and better living conditions for ethnic minority Baluchis in Shi’ite-dominated Iran. It has claimed responsibility for several attacks in recent years on Iranian security forces in Sistan-Baluchestan.

The area, which borders Afghanistan and Pakistan, has long been the site of frequent clashes between Iranian security forces and Sunni militants as well as drug traffickers.

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Iran is a key transit route for narcotics smuggled from Afghanistan to the West and elsewhere.

In December, the militant group attacked a police station in the town of Rask, killing 11 security personnel.

In January, Iran targeted two bases of the militant group in Pakistan with missiles, prompting a rapid military riposte from Islamabad targeting what it said were separatist militants in Iran.

(Reporting by Dubai Newsroom; Writing by Parisa Hafezi, Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan, Devika Syamnath and Andrew Cawthorne)

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