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Sun 7 Dec 2008 07:32 AM

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Iran to crush rebels behind police murders

State prosecutor vows 'tooth-breaking' response to rebels that killed 16 officers.

Iran has vowed to give a "tooth-breaking" response to a Sunni Muslim rebel group which killed 16 Iranian policemen it abducted in June, local press reported on Saturday.

"The Islamic republic will firmly give a tooth-breaking response to armed rebels in border areas," Qorban Ali Dori Najafabadi, the state prosecutor general, was quoted as saying by the Etemad Melli daily.

Iran confirmed on Thursday that all abducted policemen were killed by the "terrorist group of Abdolmalek Rigi".

The Jundullah (Soldiers of God) group had said they captured 16 Iranian border policemen on June 12 at a checkpoint in the southeastern town of Saravan, before taking them across the border into Pakistan.

In early September, an Iranian police commander said the group had released one of the policemen, who said his colleagues were still alive.

In August, Jundullah leader Rigi said his group was ready for talks with the government, offering to lay down its arms if the Sunni minority in predominantly Shi'ite Iran was granted full political rights.

The Sunni group has been blamed for a string of attacks and kidnappings in Sistan-Baluchestan province, which is home to a large ethnic Baluch community and is on the border with Pakistan.

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