Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad urged his Pakistani counterpart in a telephone call on Monday to help hunt down those behind an attack on the Iranian Revolutionary Guards (IRG) that killed 42 people.
Ahmadinejad and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari stressed the “necessity of joint cooperation in setting up a timetable with the intention of confronting and eradicating criminal terrorists”, Iran’s IRNA news agency reported.
“Iran and Pakistan have enjoyed brotherly ties ... but the presence of terrorist elements in Pakistan would call for the Pakistani government's assistance in the speedy apprehension of these terrorists,” Ahmadinejad said.
Iran has in the past said members of the Sunni insurgent Jundollah (God’s soldiers) group, which Iranian media say claimed Sunday's bombing in southeastern Iran near Pakistan, are operating from Pakistani territory.
The head of the Revolutionary Guards said on Monday that Jundollah had ties with US, British and Pakistani intelligence, and said there would have to be “retaliatory measures” against the Americans and British.
Meanwhile, the Jundallah on Monday claimed responsibility for the attack, a US monitoring group said.
“This martyrdom-seeking operation” was to avenge “the wounds of the Baluch people which have been bleeding for years without end,” it said in a statement on jihadist forums on the Internet, said SITE Intelligence Group.
The shadowy rebel group Jundallah has been waging a deadly insurgency in the southeast for nearly a decade.
Led by Abdolmalek Rigi, the group says it is fighting for the rights of the Sunni ethnic Baluchi population of Sistan-Baluchestan province in the face of Shiite rule from Tehran.
But Iranian officials charge that the group has links with Al-Qaeda and that it has received money and training from arch-foe the United States, in collaboration with Britain, aimed at destabilising the Islamic republic.
Analysts estimate that the group was formed around 2000-2003 and now has some 1,000 militants trained in small arms and explosives.
Jundallah claimed a May 28 bombing against a Shiite mosque in the Sistan-Baluchestan provincial capital Zahedan, in which more than 20 people were killed and 50 wounded.