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Pakistan: Iran partially closes border crossing

Iran has partially closed a border crossing into Pakistan following a deadly mosque bombing in southeastern Iran, two Pakistani officials near the border said Monday.

world Updated: Jun 01, 2009 20:12 IST

Iran has partially closed a border crossing into Pakistan following a deadly mosque bombing in southeastern Iran, two Pakistani officials near the border said Monday.

The foreign minister said the frontier was open. Qamar Masood, a senior official in Baluchistan province on the Pakistan side of the border, said the crossing at Taftan had been closed for trading but that foot traffic was still being allowed.

Shahbaz Ahmed, an official with the Pakistani border security force at Taftan, told AP the border had been closed for the past three days and that no vehicles had crossed during that period.

"Officially we have not been given any intimation or reason, but I think that blast in Zahedan could be the reason," Masood told The Associated Press, referring to the mosque attack.

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said in a statement that Pakistan's border with Iran "was never closed" and that five Iranian trucks carrying aid for refugees from a military offensive in Pakistan's northwestern Swat Valley region had crossed over on Monday.

Officials could not immediately explain the different accounts. Calls to Iranian officials were not immediately returned on Monday.

A blast at a mosque in Zahedan, 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers) southeast of the capital Tehran last Thursday killed 25 people and injured 80. Three men accused of supplying explosives to the bombers were hanged on Saturday, Iran's official news agency reported. The bombing was claimed by a Sunni militant group with reported ties to Pakistan, Jundallah or God's Brigade. The group has been fighting a low-level campaign against Iran's Shiite leadership for years.

Pakistan's ambassador to Iran was summoned to Iranian Foreign Ministry over the incident, the state news agency reported. The area around Zahedan is also a main drug trafficking route. Zahedan is the capital of lawless Sistan-Baluchistan province near Iran's volatile border with Pakistan and Afghanistan. The area is plagued by clashes between police and drug smugglers. Qureshi said the governments of Pakistan and Iran were cooperating fully to catch the bombers.