TEHRAN - Kurdish rebels have killed four members of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards in the country’s west, a provincial official told the Mehr news agency on Wednesday. The attack was carried out by members of the Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK) near the town of Paveh in Iran’s Kermanshah province on Tuesday evening, Mehr reported. “Four members of the Guards were martyred and four others wounded in the cowardly act,” Shahryar Heydari, the province’s ranking security official, told Mehr. Heydari said PJAK rebels also suffered casualties, but did not provide any details.

The PJAK, labelled as “terrorists” by Tehran, has often clashed with Iranian forces, sparking retaliatory bombing of their rear bases in the mountainous border districts of neighbouring Iraqi Kurdistan.

The report on Wednesday was the first such account of a deadly conflict between Iranian forces and the Kurdish rebels since summer last year.

In July 2010, the Islamic republic’s Guards launched a string of operations against the rebels and began shelling districts near the border with Iraq, killing dozens including the rebels’ deputy commander.

Later in September, the Guards said they had forced the rebels out of northwestern Iran and killed more than 180 of them in a summer-long offensive.