At least 16 Iranian border guards were killed in an overnight skirmish with "armed bandits" on the country's southeastern boundary with Pakistan, national media reported on Saturday.
Several other guards were said to have been seized during the clashes in the mountainous region outside Saravan, a border town in the southeast Sistan-Baluchistan province, the IRNA said quoting an unnamed official.
No other details were immediately given on the identities of the assailants. Security forces, however, have previously fought drug traffickers in the area, which lies on a major drug route between Afghanistan and Europe, as well as the Persian Gulf states.
"It's the first time in a year that we've seen such an attack in this province," Siavosh Ghazi, a correspondent for the AFP news agency in Tehran, told FRANCE 24.
The area has been plagued by unrest in the past, with the mainly Sunni Muslim population complaining of discrimination at the hands of Iran's Shiite Muslim authorities.
Mohammad Marzieh, the public prosecutor of provincial capital Zahedan, also announced that authorities had executed 16 "terrorists" on Saturday in retaliation for the killings.
"These individuals were executed this Saturday morning in response to the terrorist action of last evening at Saravan and the martyrdom of the border guards," he said, according to the ISNA news agency.
But Ghazi said it was unclear whether those put to death were those responsible for the attack.
"We don't know if they were rebels who were arrested last night or rebels who were already in prison," Ghazi said.
READ FULL SOURCE ARTICLE: 10/26/2013
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