In an expansion of hostilities rippling out from the Israel-Hamas war, Pakistan said on Thursday that it had carried out strikes inside Iran. The military action came a day after Iranian forces attacked what they said were militant camps in Pakistan.
The Pakistani Foreign Affairs Ministry said that the country’s forces had conducted “precision military strikes” against what it called terrorist hide-outs in southeastern Iran. A number of militants were killed, the ministry said in a statement.
A senior Pakistani security official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said Pakistan had struck at least seven camps used by Baluch separatists about 30 miles inside the border. The official said that air force fighter jets and drones were used in the Pakistani retaliatory strikes.
A day before, Iran conducted an airstrike in Baluchistan Province in Pakistan. The Iranian government later said that the strike in Pakistan, as well as attacks it conducted in Iraq and Syria, showed that Iran would hit back forcefully at enemies anywhere.
An emboldened Iran has been using its proxy forces against Israel and its allies since the war in Gaza began in October. Those actions, and now the attacks by Iran itself on other countries in the region, have increased the risk that the upheaval washing over the Middle East could grow.
Iranian officials said that the attack in Pakistan had been aimed at militants who threatened Iran, but the Pakistani authorities rejected that account, citing what it said were civilian casualties from the strike.
Pakistan denounced the Iranian strike as a blatant violation of international law and said that it “reserves the right to respond.”
Pakistan has long maintained that Baluch separatists, who have waged a low-level insurgency in Baluchistan Province in southwestern Pakistan for decades, have hide-outs across the border in Iran. Iran has also accused Pakistan of not doing enough to contain militants who have targeted Iranian security.
“A calculated and timely response was necessary to negate an Iranian misperception that an unprovoked, surprise military attack on Pakistan will not yield a strong but calibrated and swift response,” Syed Muhammad Ali, a security analyst based in Islamabad, said in an interview.
He added that both sides had strong incentives to let the tensions cool now that Pakistan had responded, “as both countries will not gain anything from any further military exchange or escalation.”
On Thursday, after the Pakistani strike inside Iran, channels on the messaging app Telegram run by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps showed images of rubble from residential areas near the Pakistan border. Iran’s official Islamic Republic News Agency confirmed that multiple explosions had occurred in the border area.