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Middle East

Iran hangs 16 rebel prisoners 'in retaliation for border deaths'

The rebels have been executed for the deaths of 20 border guards according to Iranian media

Authorities in Iran have hanged 16 men they accused of being rebels of an unspecified armed group in retaliation for the death of border guards near the southeastern frontier with Pakistan, local media has reported.

Around 20 Iranian border guards had been killed in clashes on Friday evening, Reuters have reported.

In response, rebels were executed on Saturday morning hours, the local judicial official Mohammad Marzieh was quoted as saying.

The hangings were reported by the semi official Fars news agency, but few other details were provided. 

It did not mention a trial, suggesting the prisoners may already have been convicted and sentenced to death, and their executions moved up after the ambush.

The rebels were executed at a prison in Zahedan, near to where the border killings occurred overnight. They had not been accused of carrying out the murders.

The area also has a history of unrest, with the mainly Sunni Muslim population complaining of discrimination at the hands of Iran's Shi'ite Muslim authorities.

Additional reporting by Agencies