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article imageFive freed Iran troops flown home from Pakistan

By AFP     Nov 22, 2018 in World

Five Iranian security personnel, who had been held by jihadists for a month, have been flown home after Pakistani forces secured their release, Iran's Revolutionary Guards said on Thursday.

The five were part of a mixed unit of 12 border guards, militiamen and Guards intelligence agents who were captured by jihadists of the Pakistan-based Jaish al-Adl (Army of Justice) group during an operation near the border on October 16, a state television-run news agency reported.

The Pakistani foreign ministry announced on November 15 that police and troops had secured the release of five of the captives and were still trying to free the others.

"Following efforts and interactions with the Pakistani side to free the border guards and militiamen," five of them "were released and returned to Iran last night", the Guards said.

The Guards website carried photographs of the five being welcomed home by generals as they got off the plane.

Sistan-Baluchistan province, where the men were captured, has long been a flashpoint, with Pakistan-based Baluchi separatists and jihadists carrying out cross-border raids.

The province has a large, mainly Sunni Muslim ethnic Baluchi community which straddles the border.

Jaish al-Adl, which claimed the capture of the Iranian personnel and is labelled a "terrorist" group by Iran, was formed in 2012 as a successor organisation to the Sunni extremist group Jundallah (Soldiers of God) which waged a deadly insurgency against Iranian targets over the previous decade.

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif visited Islamabad twice in a month for briefings on the progress of the efforts to secure the captured unit's release.

Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi blamed the kidnapping on "our common enemies unhappy with the existing close, friendly relations between Pakistan and Iran".

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