Report: Iran hangs 16 'rebels' to avenge ambush

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Associated Press

Posted on October 26, 2013 at 6:03 AM

Updated Saturday, Oct 26 at 2:05 PM

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran hanged 16 "rebels" of an unspecified armed group on Saturday in retaliation for the death of 14 border guards in clashes near the frontier with Pakistan, a semiofficial news agency reported.

The executions took place hours after the rebels ambushed the border guards near the town of Saravan in southeast Iran, Fars agency quoted local judicial official Mohammad Marzieh as saying.

State TV said that rebels had crossed the border from Pakistan and fled back there after the clash. Drug smugglers have occasionally ambushed Iranian troops in the mountainous area, which lies astride a major transit route linking Afghanistan to Europe and the Persian Gulf. Ethnic Baluch armed groups also operate there, but recently have been much less active.

The border in the remote region is porous, and groups can easily move back and forth.

The report provided few other details of the hangings. 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 state news agency IRNA had earlier described the attackers as "bandits," and said authorities were investigating whether the attackers were drug smugglers or an armed opposition group.

An Iran official meanwhile said that authorities would probe claims by the daughter of detained opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi that she was bitten and hit by a female guard during an argument that broke out after she was allowed to visit her parents.

IRNA quoted an unnamed security official as saying that the Intelligence Ministry, which supervises the detentions of the elder Mousavi and his wife, will investigate any failures or fault by the guard. However, the official said Mousavi's daughter was at fault in the incident, claiming that she insulted and attacked the guard.

The opposition Kaleme website on Friday recounted the allegations by Nargess Mousavi: that she was abused by the guard, who demanded that she and her sister consent to a strip search after visiting her parents, who have been under house arrest since early 2011.

Nargess Mousavi claims the guard struck her in the head and bit her on the wrist after she refused to be searched.

The elder Mousavis and fellow opposition figure Mahdi Karroubi were placed under house arrest after leading protests in 2009 over the disputed re-election of then-President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

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