Iran arrests militants in restive province

(Reuters) – Iran has arrested members of a rebel group in Kurdistan province, the official IRNA news agency reported Tuesday, after several attacks on security forces in the restive border province in recent days.

IRNA quoted an unidentified informed source as saying “about eight” Salafis — Sunni Muslim followers of an ultra-conservative brand of Islam — had been arrested in a house near the city of Sanandaj, some 80 km (50 miles) from the Iraqi border.

“Many weapons and explosives have been seized from this house,” the source said.

Six members of Iran’s security forces have been killed and eight others wounded in two attacks in Kurdistan in the last two weeks, according to media reports.

So far, no group has claimed responsibility for the attacks, but Deputy Interior Minister Ali Abdollahi blamed PJAK, an offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which took up arms in 1984 for an autonomous homeland in southeast Turkey and shelters in Iraq’s northeastern border provinces.

PJAK has not commented on the attacks.

Iranian security officials said at least two PJAK members were killed and others wounded in two separate incidents.

Like Iraq and Turkey, Iran has a large Kurdish minority, mainly living in the northwest and west.

Predominantly Shi’ite Iran rejects allegations by Western rights groups that it discriminates against ethnic and religious minorities. Most Iranian Kurds are Sunni Muslims.

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