KARACHI: At least one Pakistani was wounded after Iranian forces opened fire on smugglers in an area on the border of Iran and Pakistan’s southwestern Balochistan province, a local Pakistani official said on Wednesday.
The Associated Press reported that the shooting at the border left at least two dead and six wounded. It quoted Iranian officials as saying forces had shot at several fuel smugglers on the Pakistani side of the border near Saravan the day before.
Mohammad Hadi Marashi, deputy governor of the Sistan and Baluchestan province, also accused Pakistani forces of opening fire at a gathering of fuel smugglers trying to cross back into Iran, killing one and wounding four.
Pakistan has set aside nearly $20 million to fence its 900-kilometer border with Iran, frequently used for trade and by minority Shia Muslims who travel from Pakistan to Iran for religious pilgrimages. But the border is also the entry point for cross-border militancy and for an illegal fuel trade that authorities have struggled to crackdown on for decades.
Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper reported that the shooting was part of a crackdown by Iranian authorities against smugglers of Iranian petrol.
“No Pakistani [has] died … only one person from Kharan [was] injured with a leg bullet, who is stable now,” Abdul Razzaq Sasoli, deputy commissioner of Panjgur, a Pakistani district bordering Balochistan, told Arab News, denying reports that a Pakistani had been killed in the incidents.
One border official said on condition of anonymity that one Pakistan had been killed in the firing incident. Arab News could not verify that claim from Pakistan’s foreign office or the Balochistan home minister Mir Ziaullah Langove, who did not respond to repeated attempts for comment.
Sanaullah Baloch, a Pakistani lawmaker and leader of the Balochistan National Party, said the number of the deceased and injured was much higher than reported. “We have reports that several dead and injured have been brought to Panjgur and other districts of Balochistan,” Baloch said. “I demand a trilateral commission comprising members of the Iranian and Pakistani foreign ministries and Baloch representatives and elders to probe this unfortunate incident and dig out the reasons for why fire was opened on innocent people.
Iran has not officially confirmed or denied the incident yet.
An angry mob stormed a district governor’s office in southeastern Iran on Tuesday, footage widely circulating on social media showed, a day after shootings at the border. Violent clashes had also erupted Monday at a police station in Saravan. Iranian border guards opened fire at fuel smugglers trying to storm the station, wounding several, AP reported.