Iranian policeman killed during unrest near Pakistan border

TEHRAN, Iran — An officer has been killed in an attack on a police station in southeastern Iran, state media reports, as unrest in Sistan-Baluchistan province spread to provincial capital Zahedan.

The violence began earlier this week when a clash involving fuel smugglers at the Pakistani border triggered attacks on government buildings in the nearby city of Saravan, 270 kilometers (170 miles) southeast of Zahedan, in which at least one person was fatally wounded.

Sistan-Baluchistan has a large ethnic Baluch population, that straddles the border and mainly follows the Sunni branch of Islam, not the Shiite branch followed by most Iranians.

The province has long been a flashpoint for cross-border attacks by separatists and Sunni extremists.

Zahedan county governor Abouzarmahdi Nakahei says the latest violence was fueled by “fake” reports of deaths in the unrest in Saravan.

“Following the propaganda and rumours by foreign media, criminal elements attacked Kurin police station in Zahedan with light weapons and grenade launchers,” Nakahei tells state news agency IRNA, without saying when the attack took place.

He says the assailants had acted on the “excuse of showing solidarity for the fake deaths at Saravan’s Shamsar police station.”

Police returned fire and the attackers eventually fled, but one officer was killed in the firefight, Nakahei says.

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