Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari, the chief commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), says five of the 12 Iranian forces, who were kidnapped last month by Pakistan-based terrorists, have been freed.
The IRGC chief said Thursday that the freed forces are now in Pakistan and will soon return home, and that efforts are underway to secure the release of the remaining captives.
The 12 forces were kidnapped in mid-October by elements of the so-called Jaish ul-Adl terrorist group near the town of Mirjaveh in the southeastern province of Sistan and Baluchestan, and then spirited away into neighboring Pakistan.
Jafari further said, “The kidnappers are seeking to exchange the abducted soldiers with several of their accomplices that are behind bars in the Islamic Republic for committing crimes.”
“This request is not acceptable,” added the senior military official.
Jafari further said the Islamic Republic will not accept any “irrational conditions set by the terrorists and will secure the release all its troops with full force and in cooperation with the Pakistani government.”
He added that securing the freedom of the captives “takes time,” but stressed that the “there should be no worries” over the matter.
Later in the day, IRGC spokesman Brigadier General Ramezan Sharif also said the Pakistani side had informed Tehran on Wednesday of the kidnappers’ pledge to free five of Iranian forces “in the first phase.”
The IRGC, he added, will continue to follow up on the fate of the abductees and leave no stone unturned to secure their release.
Pakistan also confirmed the news, with spokesman of its Foreign Ministry saying in a tweet that the abductees are in “good health” and will be “handed over to Iranian authorities.”
Over the past weeks, Iranian military and political officials have been in constant consultations with the Pakistani side over the fate of the hostages. Tehran also offered joint operations with Islamabad to secure the release of the abductees.
Jaish ul-Adl was formed in 2012 by members of the Pakistan-based Jundallah, another terror outfit which was dismantled by Iranian intelligence forces in 2010 after its ringleader, Abdolmalek Rigi, was executed.
Iranian border guards have repeatedly come under attacks by terror outfits active on the Pakistani soil.
Back in August, Iran managed to release a guard from terrorist captivity. He had been abducted during an ambush on a border outpost in Mirjaveh and held in Pakistan for more than a year.