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TEHRAN: Iran’s Revolutionary Guards announced on Saturday that another of its senior officers was killed during clashes in the southeast of the country.

Colonel Hamid Reza Hashemi, an intelligence officer in the Iranian army’s ideological arm, “succumbed to injuries he sustained during clashes with the terrorists,” a Guards statement said.

The death brings to 20 the number of people killed in an exchange of fire on Friday near a police station in the city of Zahedan, the capital of Sistan-Baluchestan province. The state broadcaster had said Colonel Ali Mousavi, a provincial intelligence officer in the Guards, was among the dead.

Tasnim news agency on Saturday reported that the Sunni rebel group of Jaish al-Adl (Army of Justice) has claimed responsibility for the attack near the police station in Zahedan.

In recent years, the jihadist outfit Jaish al-Adl has been the most active rebel group in Sistan-Baluchestan. The group has carried out several high-profile bombings and abductions.

The provincial governor of Sistan-Baluchestan, Hossein Khiabani, had told state TV on Friday that a total of 20 people were also injured in the clashes.

“Several chain stores were looted and set on fire, and a number of banks and government centers were also damaged,” he added.

In February 2019, 27 Guards were killed in a suicide attack on their bus.

Poverty-stricken Sistan-Baluchestan, which borders Afghanistan and Pakistan, is a flashpoint for clashes with drug smuggling gangs, as well as rebels from the Baluchi minority and Sunni Muslim extremist groups.

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