Pakistan hits 'terrorist hideouts' in airstrike on Iran

"This morning's action was taken in light of credible intelligence of impending large-scale terrorist activities."
A street in Panjgur district, in Balochistan, south-west Pakistan. The province was targeted by Iranian air strikes this week. (Photo: AFP)
A street in Panjgur district, in Balochistan, south-west Pakistan. The province was targeted by Iranian air strikes this week. (Photo: AFP)

Pakistan said Thursday it had carried out strikes against militant targets in Iran, after Tehran launched attacks on Pakistani territory earlier this week.

Iranian state media reported three women and four children were killed in explosions in the country's southeast.

"This morning Pakistan undertook a series of highly coordinated and specifically targeted precision military strikes against terrorist hideouts in Siestan-o-Baluchistan province of Iran," a foreign ministry statement said, adding that a "number of terrorists were killed".

"This morning's action was taken in light of credible intelligence of impending large-scale terrorist activities."

The attack comes after Iran confirmed carrying out strikes against "a terrorist group" late Tuesday in Pakistan -- an attack that Islamabad said killed two children.

"Pakistan fully respects the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Islamic Republic of Iran," the foreign ministry said.

"The sole objective of today's act was in pursuit of Pakistan's own security and national interest which is paramount and cannot be compromised."

Iran's official IRNA news agency reported that "several explosions have been heard in several areas around the city of Saravan", quoting a provincial official.

Pakistan's foreign ministry on Wednesday denounced the "unprovoked and blatant breach of Pakistan's sovereignty" before recalling its ambassador from Iran and blocking Tehran's envoy -- currently in Iran -- from returning to the country.

The missile and drone attack targeted the Jaish al-Adl group in Pakistan, Iran's government said, after Tehran also launched attacks in Iraq and Syria against what it called "anti-Iranian terrorist groups".

Tehran and Islamabad frequently accuse each other of allowing militants to operate from the other's territory to launch attacks, but it is rare that official forces on either side engage.

The Iranian strikes add to multiple crises across the Middle East, with Israel waging a war against Hamas in Gaza and pro-Palestinian Huthi rebels in Yemen attacking commercial vessels in the Red Sea.

On Wednesday, Iran's Defence minister Mohammad Reza Ashtiani said Tehran would set "no limits" to its security.

China, close partners of Iran and Pakistan, urged restraint, with foreign ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning saying both should "avoid actions that would lead to an escalation of tension". 

The United States, meanwhile, condemned the Iranian strikes in Pakistan, Iraq and Syria, with State Department spokesman Matthew Miller saying Tehran had violated the "sovereign borders of three of its neighbours in just the past couple of days".

Pakistan's official statement did not specify where Thursday's strike took place, but Pakistani media said it was near Panjgur in southwest Balochistan province, where the countries share a sparsely populated border of nearly 1,000 kilometres (620 miles).

Hours before the strike, Pakistan's caretaker Prime Minister Anwar-ul-Haq Kakar had met the Iranian foreign minister on the sidelines of the WEF.

"This violation of Pakistan's sovereignty is completely unacceptable and can have serious consequences," Pakistan's foreign ministry statement said.

It said the strike caused the "death of two innocent children while injuring three girls".