GENEVA, Feb 19 – The man who carried out a suicide bombing which killed 27 members of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards near the border with Pakistan last week was Pakistani, a senior Revolutionary Guards commander said on Tuesday, according to the Tasnim news agency.
One other member of the militant cell that planned the attack was also a Pakistani citizen, the head of the Guards’ ground forces, Brigadier General Mohammad Pakpour said.
Iran has repeatedly blamed Pakistan for sheltering militants connected with attacks in the border area, although Tuesday’s remarks appear to be the first time Tehran has said Pakistani citizens were directly involved in the attack.
Iran also accuses regional rival Saudi Arabia of promoting violence among members of Iran’s Sunni Muslim minority. Pakistan and Saudi Arabia deny any role in attacks in Iran.
Three Iranians from Sistan and Baluchistan province in southeast Iran were also part of the cell and two of them have been arrested, according to Pakpour. The guards announced three arrests in the case on Monday.
The Sunni group Jaish al Adl (Army of Justice), which says it seeks greater rights and better living conditions for ethnic minority Baluchis in eastern Iran claimed responsibility for the attack.
“Today Saudi Arabia is the heart of evil in the region and the world,” Brigadier General Hossein Salami, the deputy head of the Guards, said on Tuesday at a ceremony commemorating those killed in the attack, according to the Fars news agency.
Remnants of the car used in the suicide attack were given to the police, Pakpour said. Once the owner of the car was identified, intelligence and security forces carried out arrests.
The militants had planned to carry out multiple attacks, Pakpour said: “This group had prepared a lot of ammunition and equipment.”
(Reporting by Babak Dehghanpisheh Editing by Peter Graff)