Iran has hanged 16 people as revenge for an attack near the Pakistani border. The New Straits Times reports that gunmen killed at least 14 border guards in the mountains of Sistan-Baluchestan in the southeast of the country.
In retaliation, Iran announced it had hanged 16 “rebels” held in a prison in the region. They were not being held in relation to the attack.
The Sistan-Baluchestan region is dominated by a Sunni Muslim population, unlike the rest of Iran, which is Shiite-dominated. The region is also a major drug-trafficking site.
The official IRNA news agency cited an unnamed “informed source” in saying: “Fourteen border guards were killed during armed clashes in the region of Saravan, and five others were wounded.” The source said the gunmen were “bandits or rebels opposed to the Islamic republic.”
Attorney General of Sistan-Baluchestan, Mohammad Marzieh, is quoted in the Fars news agency as saying: “Sixteen rebels linked to groups hostile to the regime were hanged this morning in the prison of Zahedan in response to the death of border guards in Saravan”
Iran’s Deputy Interior Minister added: “We warned the rebel groups that any attack targeting civilians or members of the security forces would not go unanswered.”
This is not the first time Iran has hanged people in relation to an offence they themselves had not committed.
After a suicide bombing by Sunni militias in the city of Shabahar in December 2010, the Iranian government hanged 11 suspected members of the militia group who were already imprisoned.