A senior military official said that the bandits who abducted 21 citizens on Chabahar-Iranshahr road in Iran’s southeastern province of Sistan and Balouchestan this morning are members of Abdul-Malik Rigi’s group. Rigi, a well-known gang leader whose group has already staged several terrorist operations in southeastern Iran, has long been chased by Iranian troops. In one of the worst cases, his group killed 22 citizens and abducted 7 more in Tasouki region on a road linking the capital city of Zahedan to another provincial town.
Deputy commander of the IRGC’s regional headquarters in Sistan and Balouchestan, Mohammad Javad Asna Ashari told FNA in Zahedan on Sunday that the bandits had blocked the Chabahar-Iranshahr road at around 3 am local time (23:30 GMT) and set several cars, including two oil tankers, ablaze.
“They have taken the two drivers hostage and it is not clear yet if this terrorist operation has led to the wounding or martyrdom of anyone,” he continued.
The military official underlined that the abductors are members of Abdul-Malik Rigi’s group.
FNA dispatches added that bandits first abducted 20 passengers of passing cars and the director of the education ministry’s regional office in Chabahar, Ali Zare’ee, who was on a mission to Zahedan.
A local ministry official said that Zare’ee had been accompanied by a Balouch expert at the time of abduction, who was freed by the hostage-takers.
Later in the day, bandits released 13 of the hostages who were all Sunni Muslims and took the other 8 (all Shiite Muslims) with themselves when crossing Iran’s shared borders with Pakistan.
Reports also said that kidnappers along with the 8 hostages are now in mountainous areas in Pakistan.
The hostage-taking operations by the bandits is believed to be an act of retaliation to avenge for the death of a bandit and smuggler Saturday night.
The bandit, Molla Shah-Bakhsh who was killed by Iranian law enforcement troops last night, was reportedly in charge of the recent abduction of a Belgian couple who were later released by Iranian police forces.