A Sunni militant group has claimed responsibility for the kidnapping of 12 Iranian guards close to the country's border with Pakistan, Iranian news agency ISNA has reported.
"The terrorist group Jaish al-Adl has posted two photos… claiming that those in it are the forces abducted on Oct. 16," ISNA said.
The photos appear to show seven members of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and five policemen positioned next to one another. IRGC spokesman, General Ramazan Sharif, reportedly appeared live on Iranian television on Monday, October 22, to confirm the names of the kidnapped, adding that the Islamist group has attacked Iran's border police multiple times over the past year, but this time was "successful."
Jaish al-Adl — which translates to the ‘Army of Justice' — is an insurgent group based in the Sistan-Baluchestan province of Iran to the country's southeast, sharing a border with Pakistan and Afghanistan. The group has taken the credit for several attacks against Iranian civilians and military installations over the years after being established in 2012.
According to Iranian reports, the border personnel were abducted near the village of Lulakdan, which sits approximately 150 kilometres southeast of Zahedan, the capital of Sistan-Baluchistan.
Iran's IRNA agency has quoted IRGC commander Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari as saying that the men were "made unconscious" by a "single infiltrator," subsequently kidnapped and whisked away to hidden bases over the border in Pakistan, raising questions as to whether Islamabad's authorities had any knowledge of the attack.
The militants also shared photos of a large cache of weaponry, including sniper rifles and rocket launchers, that were apparently seized from their Iranian hostages.