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Pakistan warns of serious consequences after Iran missile attack kills two children

The strike comes as fears grow of wider regional conflict in the wake of Israel’s war on Hamas in Gaza

Arpan Rai
Wednesday 17 January 2024 12:32 GMT
Related video: Iran claims strikes on ‘Israeli espionage HQ’ close to US consulate in Iraqi city

Pakistan has warned of serious conquences after a strike by Iran that killed two children. It is the third air strike on another country by Tehran this week after earlier attacks on targets in Iraq and Syria – further stoking fears of conflict spilling out across the Middle East.

Iranian state media confirmed missile strikes were carried out on targets in Pakistan, saying they hit two bases connected to the militant group Jaish al-Adl.

In a strongly-worded statement, Pakistan’s foreign office said the attack was an “illegal act” that could have “serious consequences”.

"Pakistan strongly condemns the unprovoked violation of its airspace by Iran and the strike inside Pakistani territory which resulted in the death of two innocent children while injuring three girls.

“This violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty is completely unacceptable and can have serious consequences,” Pakistan’s foreign office spokesperson said in the early hours of Wednesday.

Many nations across the Middle East have been on edge since a Hamas attack inside Israel on 7 October killed 1,200 people and saw 240 more taken hostage. In response, Israel has vowed to eradicate Hamas and has launched airstrikes and ground operations inside Hamas-controlled Gaza, backed up by a blockade. Health officials in Gaza say more than 24,000 people have been killed in the three-month conflict.

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Hamas are backed by Iran, with Tehran also supporting Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Houthis in Yemen. Hezbollah have been engaging in near-daily exchanges of fire with Israeli forces on the Israel-Lebanon border, while the Houthis have been striking ships in the Red Sea, a vital route for global trade. The Houthis claim they are targeting Israel-bound ships, but have struck several US-owed vessels, sparking the creation of a multi-national force in the area, led by Washington, to protect shipping.

The UK and US have also struck a number of Houthi sites across Yemen with missiles to try to deter attacks. The latest strike took place on Tuesday, according to US officials, with four anti-ship ballistic missiles that were being prepared to launch from Houthi-controlled territory struck and destroyed.

In state media reports, which were later withdrawn without explanation, Iran said its paramilitary Revolutionary Guard targeted bases for the militant group Jaish al-Adl, or the "Army of Justice." The group, which seeks an independent Baluchistan and has spread across Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan, acknowledged the assault in a statement shared online.

Jaish al-Adl, a Sunni militant group, has launched attacks on Iranian security forces along the border it shares with Pakistan in the southwestern region.

Six bomb-carrying drones and rockets struck homes that the militants claim housed children and wives of their fighters. Jaish al-Adl said the attack killed two children and wounded two women and a teenage girl. A Pakistani intelligence report said the two children killed were a 6-year-old girl and an 11-month old boy. Three women were injured, aged between 28 and 35. The report also said three or four drones were fired from the Iranian side, hitting a mosque and other buildings, including a house.

"It is even more concerning that this illegal act has taken place despite the existence of several channels of communication between Pakistan and Iran," the statement from Pakistan’s foreign ministry spokesperson said.

Pakistan said it will recall its ambassador in Tehran after Iran violated its airspace, the Pakistani foreign ministry sais, with a spokesperon adding that Iran's envoy in Islamabad, who is visiting his home country, will not not be allowed to return. She said the violation was an unprovoked and blatant breach of Pakistan's sovereignty and was "unacceptable".

"Pakistan reserves the right to respond to this illegal act," she added.

The location of the missile strike and the full nature of the airspace violation was not immediately clear, while Pakistan’s statement did not specify details.

Pakistan has become the third country after Iraq and Syria to be targeted by Iranian attacks in the past few days.

Tehran has said the strikes on Pakistan, Iraq and Syria are against their enemies, especially in the wake of a double suicide bombing in the city of Kerman on 3 January, in which more than 80 Iranians were killed. Isis claimed responsibility for that attack.

The US condemned an attack by Iran on targets in Erbil, northern Iraq on Monday, which Tehran said targeted an Israeli spying operation.

Shortly after the attack, Iraq said it will take Iran to the UN Security Council over what Tehran has claimed was an attack on an Israeli “espionage headquarters” in the north of the country.

Associated Press contributed to this report

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