Iran said Sunday that a "terrorist" attack had killed at least six security guards near the border with Pakistan, claiming the assailants were trying to infiltrate Iran.
The deadly incident happened in the Saravan region in the province of Sistan-Baluchistan, some 1,360 kilometers southeast of the capital Tehran, said the Iranian foreign ministry spokesman in a statement on the government’s website.
Nasser Kanaani said Iran "condemns the sinister act and expects the Pakistani government… to suppress terrorist groups as soon as possible and to try to improve the security of the common borders" in line with bilateral agreements. He did not elaborate.
Pakistan denounced Sunday's attack. A foreign ministry statement in Islamabad expressed condolences to the bereaved families and the Iranian government over the "tragic incident." It stressed "the need for mutual efforts to eliminate the terrorism on both sides of the border."
Iranian state media reported militants involved in the deadly attack were attempting to enter the country illegally and fled the area with casualties.
There were no immediate claims of responsibility, and Iranian officials did not blame the incident on any group.
Impoverished, predominately Sunni Muslim Sistan-Baluchistan abuts Pakistan's natural resources-rich, sparsely populated Baluchistan province. The violence-hit Iranian region also borders Afghanistan, making it a convenient route for drug traffickers and Sunni extremists waging attacks against predominately Shi’ite Iran.
Islamabad alleges that ethnic Baluch insurgents use sanctuaries on Iranian soil to wage attacks against Pakistani security forces in Baluchistan, also a poverty-stricken region.
Both countries routinely blame the other for not doing enough to prevent cross-border militant attacks.
Sunday's violence came days after Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif traveled to the shared border between the two countries and jointly launched a marketplace and power transmission line.
Kanaani said the deadly incident of terrorism was a "targeted action" to disrupt efforts aimed at enhancing mutual security and economic cooperation in the wake of the Thursday launches.
Raisi and Sharif also held a formal meeting on the sidelines of the event, agreeing to enhance border security measures.
"We have exchanged proposals to make our joint border security mechanism more coherent and robust," the Pakistani prime minister said after the meeting. He said Islamabad would "take appropriate and effective steps" in the light of proposals shared by Raisi but did not elaborate.
The new marketplace is one of the six such facilities Islamabad and Tehran are jointly building to create jobs to help thousands of poverty-stricken households living on both sides of the more than 900-kilometer border. The transmission line will export 100-megawatt Iranian electricity to Pakistan.