Clashes in southeast Iran kill 3 troops, 5 bandits

Tehran, Jan 1: Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard and an armed criminal gang clashed on Saturday in a restive southeastern province, leaving three Guard members and ?at least five bandits” dead, the state-run IRNA news agency reported.
The report said the fighting took place late Saturday evening in the district of Kourin, about 1,120 kilometers (700miles) southeast of the capital, Tehran, and near the Pakistani border. It also said that at least five other bandits were wounded. There were no further details.
The area is in Sistan and Baluchistan province, has been the scene of occasional clashes between Iranian government forces and various militant groups. The province, bordering Pakistan and Afghanistan, is also where a Sunni separatist group affiliated with al-Qaida and known as Jeish al-Adl, or Army of Justice, operates.
Security forces have also clashed with drug traffickers in the province, located along a major smuggling route for Afghan opium and heroin.
Last July, armed bandits shot and killed four Guard members in the province.

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