Iran blasts Turkey over border deaths
“The subject has been announced to the Turkish government through diplomatic channels and we are awaiting their response,” Tehran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi told the media.
Seven border guards were injured when suspected PJAK militants attacked them while they were changing posts. The insurgents retreated into Turkish hills.
Qassemi dismissed claims in the Turkish media that Iran was sheltering members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which Ankara, Washington and Brussels label a terrorist group.
The PJAK is an offshoot of the PKK and is known for carrying out attacks against Iranian targets, before fleeing back to hideouts in Iraq and Turkey.
“I deny these allegations. There is no anti-government group on Iran’s territory,” he said.
“This is an unpleasant incident. We don’t like to have insecure borders with Turkey. We hope that with the prudence, responsibility and response of the Turkish government, we can take a decision,” he added.
Iran’s border police chief Brigadier General Qassem Rezaei also said Ankara should be held accountable for the attacks for allowing insurgents to operate in its border territory.
“We consider Turkey liable and the country should be held accountable for this act of terrorism,” Rezaei said, according to Tasnim news agency.
Attacks have occurred in Iran’s West Azerbaijan province which borders Iraq, Turkey and Armenia. Rezaei told the media that “unfortunately, in the areas bordering Turkey, we witness activities by terrorist groups under various pretexts”.
Iran welcomed Turkey’s announcement this month that it planned to build a 144-kilometre wall along its border with Iran. Ankara claimed the wall would halt the movement of PKK insurgents based in Iraq’s Qandil mountains between Iran and Turkey.
Smugglers also allegedly use the border to import alcohol and other goods from Turkey and northern Iraq.
Rezaei said: “Terrorist groups are one of the plots of the world arrogance. They once used to go on rampage in the country’s northwest and operate within our borders. But today they are based outside our borders.
“The blows which have been dealt to terrorist groups by security, military and defence forces have forced them to carry out their idiotic acts somewhere else but they will receive a teeth-breaking response anyway.”
Ten Iranian border guards were killed and two others injured last month in an ambush on the Pakistani frontier.