Iran’s official news agency says armed men have killed 14 border guards in clashes near the frontier with Pakistan.
The clashes took place Friday night in a mountainous region outside Saravan, a town in southeast Iran on the border with Pakistan.
“Fourteen border guards were killed during armed clashes in the region of Saravan, and five others were wounded,” the agency quoted an informed source as saying, only identifying the gunmen as “bandits or rebels opposed to the Islamic republic”.
Saravan lies in the southeastern province of Sistan-Balochistan near the Pakistani border and is home to a large community of minority Sunni Muslims, unlike the rest of Shia-dominated Iran.
The region has scene bloody clashes over the past few years and officials say that more than 4,000 police officers and soldiers have been killed in the past three decades in fighting with traffickers.
In October last year three Iranian border guards were killed in clashes with armed drug traffickers in the Koshtegan region, also near the border with Pakistan.
Iran is a major transit route for drugs that originate in Afghanistan and is trafficked across its territory, with much of it bound for Western countries.
The Islamic republic says it is fighting a deadly war against drug traffickers who make up half its prison population. Drug trafficking is punishable by death.