Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has asked Pakistan to hand over
those he says are behind a suicide bombing Sunday that killed more than
40 people, including several top commanders of the elite Revolutionary
Guard. Iranian officials also
accuse the United States and Britain of supporting the attackers.
Mr. Ahmadinejad told Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari that the presence of "terrorist elements in Pakistan" cannot be justified and insisted Islamabad arrest those involved.
Iranian state media report the two spoke by phone one day after a suicide bomber killed more than 40 people in the southeastern region Sistan-Baluchistan, along the Pakistani border.
An internet statement in the name of the militant group Jundallah claimed responsibility for the blast. The attack, on Revolutionary Guard commanders and Sunni and Shi'ite tribal leaders gathering for a reconciliation meeting, was among the most brazen in the Islamic Republic in years.
Ali Nouri Zadeh is the director of the Center for Arab and Iranian Studies in London. He argues that the security breach has hurt the image of the Revolutionary Guard, which he notes, took part in the crackdown on anti-government protests earlier this year.
"It showed the regime, which is very strong in front of innocent people, unarmed people in the streets of Tehran or Tehran University or the streets of Isfahan or other cities, is very weak in front of people who are carrying arms," said Zadeh.
The head of the Guard, General Mohammad Ali Jafari, accused British and U.S. agents of training the militants in Pakistan.
The United States has condemned the attack and denied any involvement.
Jundallah leader Abdolmalek Rigi says his group is fighting discrimination against his people, ethnic Baluchis, members of Iran's Sunni minority. His group also claimed responsibility for an attack on a Shi'ite mosque in Iran earlier this year that killed about two dozen people.
Political analyst Zadeh says state discrimination against ethnic Baluchis and the poverty of the area, also a center of drug smuggling, give Jundallah more than enough support from the local population.
"The Baluch are very upset. They are desperate. They are poor. In parts of Baluchistan, people are living in the Stone Age," Zadeh said.
The area has suffered under a low-level insurgency for years. Military analysts believe Iran is wary of cracking down too hard, for fear of drawing in other militants from neighboring Pakistan and Afghanistan.