Gunmen ambushed and killed two Iranian policemen on patrol in the restive southeastern province of Sistan-Baluchistan, state media reported Saturday.
The officers had been “on a mission to provide security” during Friday prayers in the town of Golshan when they came under attack, said the official news agency IRNA.
Clashes ensued and led to the “martyrdom” of Lt. Col. Mohsen Pudinehi and Lt. Ehsan Shahraki at the hands of “criminals,” it said, without elaborating.
Sistan-Baluchistan province, on Iran’s border with Afghanistan
and Pakistan, has been the scene of weekly protests that flared in September over the alleged rape of a teenage girl by a police officer.
The protests began two weeks after nationwide demonstrations erupted over the death in custody of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian Kurd, after her arrest in Tehran for an alleged breach of the Islamic republic’s dress code for women.
The region is one of Iran’s poorest and is home to the Baluchi minority, who adhere to Sunni Islam rather than the Shiite branch predominant in Iran.
The area has previously seen clashes with drug smuggling gangs as well as rebels from the Baluchi minority and Sunni Muslim extremist groups.