Article published on the 2009-01-27 Latest update 2009-01-27 16:09 TU
An ambush in the south-east of Iran has killed 12 members of the élite Revolutionary Guards force. The attack came during a mission in Saravan in the Sistan-Baluchestan province on the border with Pakistan. A judiciary spokesperson said the rebels attacked a patrol van killing several guards before escaping back across the border.
A Sunni-Muslim group, the Soldiers of God, has been blamed for the attack which occured on a major drug-smuggling route from Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The group is said to be behind a series of attacks and kidnappings in the region which is home to a large ethnic Baluch community.
British-based analyst Dilip Hiro says these kinds of attacks happen all the time.
"There is always a low-level type of violence in the regions between the Revolutionary Guard and drugs smugglers in the region," he says. "According to the Iranian constitution, border security is the role of the Revolutionary Guard and not the ordinary military. Fighting has been going on for a long time and some 4,000 Revolutionary Guards have been killed in skirmishes."
The rebel group's head, Abdolmalek Rigi, claimed to have killed all 16 Iranian policemen seized in Saravan in June last year.