Iran, Pakistan battle at Baluchistan border

Pakistani and Iranian forces exchanged mortar fire along their border in the divided region of Baluchistan Oct. 24. Pakistani officials said Iran fired six mortar shells, which landed near the border town of Mashkail. Pakistan is then believed to have fired back. The two countries share a long desert border which straddles Balochistan province in southwest Pakistan and Sistan Baluchistan in eastern Iran. Last week, Pakistan said a Frontier Corps soldier was killed and three were hurt in a clash with Iranian troops who crossed the border, presumably in pursuit of militants. Islamabad lodged a diplomatic protest. Pakistan is accused by Iran of failing to stop cross-border attacks on its forces by Sunni militants. But Baluch militants are also making trouble within Pakistan. On Oct. 23, two were killed in an explosion taregetting a Frontier Corps convoy near Quetta, Balochistan's capital. That same day, a gunman opened fire on members of Shi'ite Hazara minority who were returning from an open-air market in a bus, killing eight. Also that day, Fazl-ur-Rehman, leader of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazal (JUI-F) political party, was targeted in a suicide blast in Quetta, although he escaped unharmed. (BBC NewsBBC News, The Nation, Pakistan, Express-Tribune, Pakistan, Oct. 24)

The attacks come on the opening of Muharram, the Shi'ite holy month.

Pakistan: more sectarian terror

At least 40 people have been killed in a bomb blast at a Shi'ite mosque in Shikarpur district of Sindh province, where worshippers had gathered for Friday prayers. The Jundallah militant group claimed responsibility for the attack. (BBC News; NPR)

Social activist assassinated in Pakistan

Sabeen Mahmud, a Pakistani social activist who ran a local dialogue group, was shot dead April 24 by unknown gunmen in the port city. The Second Floor cafe, a community space where she hosted dialogue events, had recently held a forum entitled "Unsilencing Balochistan," on the human rights situation in the conflicted province. (NPR)