TEHRAN/QUETTA - Seven civilians were injured when Iranian border guards fired dozens of rockets across the border into Balochistan Sunday night, following killing of three Iranian soldiers by militants – who allegedly escaped into Pakistan after the attack.

Three Iranian soldiers, including a colonel, were killed in a Sunday afternoon ambush by rebels who then fled over the nearby Pakistani border, Iranian officials claimed on Monday.

The ambush took place in the restive southeastern province of Sistan-Balochistan, where Sunni militants have carried out repeated attacks against the security forces of mainly Shia Iran. “Terrorists carried out an ambush against a military patrol and, after killing three Revolutionary Guards, fled into nearby Pakistan,” the province’s deputy governor Ali Asghar Mirshekari told the official IRNA news agency.

A military official cited by the Fars news agency said that the rebel attack took place in the Saravan region and that the dead included a colonel he identified as Akbar Abdollahnejad.

As the night fell, Iranian border guards fired 42 rockets in Kech’s Zamuran border area in Pakistani Balochistan, Levies sources said. They said the rockets landed at a village in Zamuran and injured seven Pakistani civilians.

Panic prevailed among people as Iranian border guards continued to fire rockets inside Pakistani territory the entire night. Iranian border guards stopped firing after Levies and Frontier Corps (FC) personnel reached the area to defend the border. “The injured persons were taken to District Hospital Turbat for treatment,” Levies sources said.

Iran has alleged that the assailants who attacked the Iranian checkpost sneaked inside Pakistan. The allegation is vehemently denied by Pakistani officials.

14 MILITANTS ARRESTED IN QUETTA

In a separate development, at least 14 suspected terrorists including a key militant commander of a banned oragnisation were arrested on Monday during a search operation by security forces in Balochistan’s capital Quetta.

Security forces raided a house in Haji Mohallah area of Eastern Bypass and arrested 14 suspected terrorists including nine foreigners and a militant commander who is believed to be involved in attacks on polio workers.

Four polio workers including three women were killed in gun attacks in Eastern Bypass in Quetta last month. The arrested suspects were shifted to undisclosed place for interrogation.

Law enforcement agencies have expedited action against terrorists following attack on Army Public School in Peshawar on December 16, which left at least 150 people dead, most of them children.