Iran: Fourteen Iranian soldiers, including members of IRGC, were kidnapped from the border with Pakistan on Tuesday, Iranian media has reported. Iranian officials believe the kidnappers are members of a terrorist group but didn’t say which group is responsible.
According to ITCT sources, Jaish ul-Adl could be responsible for this incident.
The kidnapped soldiers include five Mirjaveh border guards, two IRGC members, and seven Basij forces. Their weapons were also seized by the kidnappers.
“We expect Pakistan to confront these terrorist groups that are supported by some regional states, and immediately release the kidnapped Iranian forces,” the Revolutionary Guards said in a statement carried on state television.
The kidnapping occurred in Iran’s southeastern Sistan-Baluchistan province, which has a long history of unrest from separatist militants. It borders Pakistan’s sparsely populated province of Baluchistan.
Jaish al-Adl has officially claimed responsibility for the kidnapping and says that the kidnapped soldiers will be beheaded soon.
IRGC in a statement said that the militants had inside help from members of Iranian security forces.
Hours after the kidnapping, a statement from Pakistan’s Foreign Office said that its military forces were working closely with those of neighboring Iran to locate the 14 kidnapped Iranian security personnel.
“No effort will be spared to assist our Iranian brothers in finding the Iranian guards,” the Pakistani foreign ministry said in a statement issued late on Tuesday. “Both militaries, under a joint mechanism established since last year, are working to ascertain the whereabouts of Iranian guards.”
“We expect Pakistan to confront these terrorist groups that are supported by some regional states and immediately release the kidnapped Iranian forces,” the media wing of the IRGC said earlier on Tuesday. It did not name any country, but Iran blames rival Saudi Arabia for supporting anti-Iran groups, allegations Riyadh denies.
Last month, Iranian guards killed four militants at a border crossing with Pakistan, including the deputy commander of Jaish ul-Adl. The militant outfit has been blamed for attacks on Iranian military targets.
UPDATE (17 October 2018):
A group of Iranian security personnel kidnapped on the border with Pakistan this week were unconscious at the time, the commander of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards said, following reports that they had eaten drugged food.
Iran’s Fars News agency also quoted Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari on Wednesday (October 17) as saying that infiltrators had helped with the abduction of at least 10 staff to Pakistan on Tuesday, according to Reuters.
Fars mentioned the reports of tainted food on Tuesday.
Jafari said what he called “enemies” had tried unsuccessfully in the past to occupy Iranian turrets or border posts. “This time they were able to carry out their operation by bringing in an infiltrating force,” he said.
“They were sure that as long as the fighters and defenders are alert, they cannot achieve their goal, so they were able to kidnap these individuals by making them unconscious.”
Pakistan’s foreign ministry said Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi met his Iranian counterpart Javad Zarif in Islamabad on Wednesday and briefed him “about the active efforts launched by the Pakistan law enforcement agencies to ascertain the whereabouts of the missing Iranian guards, in coordination with the Iranian military and intelligence counterparts”.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif asked Pakistan to step up efforts to secure the border in a telephone call on Wednesday with his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman said Wednesday, according to Fars.
“[Zarif] requested increased seriousness of the Pakistani security and border forces in protecting the security of the borders of the two neighboring Muslim countries,” Bahram Qassemi said.
Pakistan on Wednesday informed Iran that it had launched “active” efforts to locate kidnapped Iranian security personnel.
Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday both militaries were working to ascertain the whereabouts of the Iranians.
The head of the Guards’ ground forces, Brigadier General Mohammad Pakpour, said on Tuesday that Iran was ready to conduct joint military operations with Pakistan to release the kidnapped personnel.
It was also reported on Wednesday that the Directors General (Military Operations) of both countries were in close contact through hotline to coordinate the search and rescue efforts including enhanced air surveillance and troops’ deployment in the border area where the incident took place.
“Such incidents are the handy work of our common enemies unhappy with the existing close, friendly relations between Pakistan and Iran ,” said Foreign Minister Qureshi.
UPDATE (22nd October 2018)
Jaish al-Adl released images showing the kidnapped Iranian soldiers and weapons captured from them.
UPDATE (27th October 2018)
On Saturday Jaish al-Adl released a detailed statement, putting forward its demands from the Iranian government in exchange for kidnapped soldiers.
In its statement, Jaish al-Adl put forward six demands:
1. Release Balochi political prisoners.
2. Release prisoners from minority groups.
3. Release female political prisoners.
4. Release Sunni prisoners.
5. Stop killings of Baloch people.
6. Stop destroying homes and schools of Baloch people.
Jaish al-Adl also released another image showing all the weapons and ammunition it captured from Iranian soldiers.
UPDATE (4th November 2018)
Jaish al-Adl released a new statement imploring Iranian government to negotiate for the kidnapped soldiers before it’s too late.
UPDATE – 13th November 2018
Jaish al-Adl released a video featuring the kidnapped Iranian border guards and promising more videos on the kidnapped soldiers.
The full video can be viewed here.
UPDATE – 14th November 2018
On Wednesday Jaish al-Adl released another video featuring short interviews of some of the kidnapped Iranian soldiers, who appear to be criticising the Iranian government for not caring enough about them.
UPDATE 22nd November 2018
Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps said 5 of the 12 border guards kidnapped last month by a separatist group on the border with Pakistan had been freed, the semi-official news agency Tasnim reported on Thursday.
“The five … who were kidnapped in the Mirjaveh border post by the Jaish al-Zolm (Jaish al-Adl) returned home on Wednesday night. They were released after joint efforts made with the Pakistani side,” the Guards said in a statement, Tasnim reported.
UPDATE 23rd November 2018
Jaish al-Adl released a video showing the raid that resulted in the kidnapping of the Iranian border guards. The video shows there was no exchange of fire and all the guards were kidnapped while they were drugged.
The video was also uploaded on the social media networking site by a journalist from Iran’s Fars News Agency.
🔴 #جیش_العدل تصاویر حمله به پاسگاه مرزی #میرجاوه و به اسارت گرفتن #مرزبان ها را منتشر كرد.
طبق اين ويدئو، هیچ درگیری رخ نداده و همه مرزبانان در حالت بیهوشی یا خواب آلود بودند. pic.twitter.com/NUTuQQvQyG
— Mahdi Bakhtiari (@Mahdiibakhtiari) November 21, 2018
This story will be updated in case of new information.