Violence has returned with a vengeance to Iran’s restive province of Sistan-Baluchistan.
In less than two weeks, 14 Iranian border guards have been killed, 16 Baluch youth hanged in retaliation, and a state prosecutor assassinated.
The region’s judiciary chief, Ebrahim Hamidi, was quoted by state media as saying the November 6 slaying of Mousa Nuri, the state prosecutor in the southeastern city of Zabol, had no connection to the recent hangings.
But in claiming responsibility for Nuri’s assassination, a little-known Sunni extremist group, Jaish al Adl, said it was in retaliation for the October 26 hangings of the 16 Baluchi death-row prisoners.
Nuri and his driver were gunned down in front of a hospital in Zabol, which is located close to Iran’s borders with Afghanistan and Pakistan.
In a statement posted the same day on its website, Jaish al Adl said Nuri and Mohammad Marzieh, the chief prosecutor in Zahedan, the provincial capital, had sent hundreds of “innocent young Baluchis” to the gallows, including the 16 Sunnis who were executed in October.
The 16, identified by Iranian officials as “bandits linked to groups hostile to the state,” were already on death row. But their hangings came just a day after 14 Iranian border guards were killed near the city of Saravan, which lies 270 kilometers to the south of the provincial capital across the border with Pakistan.
Zahedan chief prosecutor Marzieh said the 16, who had been convicted of extremism and drug trafficking, were executed in retaliation for the October 25 border-guard slayings.
Jaish al Adl, or the “Army of Justice”, has also claimed responsibility for the border-guard killings, saying it was in retaliation for the “cruel treatment” of Sunnis in Iran and the “massacre” in Syria it claims is being carried out by Iran.
Sistan-Baluchistan is one of the poorest regions of Iran, and the majority Sunni population there often complains of discrimination and marginalization.
By: Golnaz Esfandiari
Courtesy: Radio Free Europe