By Asif Shahzad and Saleem Ahmed
ISLAMABAD, Jan 17 (Reuters) – Pakistan recalled its ambassador from Iran on Wednesday after Iran violated its airspace in a ‘blatant breach’ of its sovereignty, a Pakistani foreign ministry spokeswoman said, as the incident stoked tensions between the two Muslim neighbours.
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Pakistan’s Strong Condemnation of the Unprovoked Violation of its Air Space
— Spokesperson 🇵🇰 MoFA (@ForeignOfficePk) January 16, 2024
Pakistan said on Tuesday the airspace violation, which Iranian state media said came as Iranian missiles targeted two bases of the militant group Jaish al Adl, had resulted in the deaths of two children.
Iran‘s Foreign Minister Amir-Abdollahian said it hit militants in “missile and drone” strikes, saying no Pakistani national was targeted. Pakistan has not confirmed the nature of the violation, or the location of the strikes.
Only “terrorists” were hit, the Iranian foreign minister said at Davos, Switzerland, where he was participating in the World Economic Forum, alleging that those targeted were linked to Israel.
Provincial officials in Pakistan said two children were killed and several others injured by missile strikes near the Iran border.
The violation was an unprovoked and blatant breach of Pakistan’s sovereignty and was “unacceptable,” the Pakistan foreign ministry spokeswoman, Mumtaz Zahra Baloch, said, adding that the country reserved “the right to respond to this illegal act.”
Pakistan and Iran have in the past had rocky relations, but the strikes are the highest-profile cross-border intrusion in recent years.
FOLLOWS STRIKES IN IRAQ AND SYRIA
The strikes in Pakistan came a day after similar attacks carried out by Tehran inside other neighbours, Iraq and Syria. Baghdad recalled its ambassador from Tehran after Iran‘s state-backed media said it had hit an Israeli espionage centre.
Jaish al Adl has previously mounted attacks on Iranian security forces in the border area with Pakistan.
Pakistan will not allow Iran‘s ambassador, who was visiting his home country, to return, the ministry’s spokesperson said in a statement.
Officials in Pakistan’s southwestern province of Balochistan, which borders Iran, said that four missiles had hit the Panjgur district close to the Iranian border.
“Four missiles were fired in the village of Koh-i-Sabaz which is around 50 km inside Pakistan soil,” a senior official of the Panjgur administration told Reuters.
“A mosque and three houses were damaged in the attack,” another official said, adding that two young girls were killed and three other people injured.