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Pakistan Denies Iran Bomb Link

A TV grab shows Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps ground-forces commander General Nur Ali Shushtari addressing a meeting shortly before he was killed in the October 18 attack.
ISLAMABAD (Reuters) -- Pakistan has condemned a suicide bomb attack in Iran and denied suggestions from the Iranian president that "some security agents" in Pakistan were cooperating with the bombers.

Iranian state television said 42 people were killed in the October 18 attack on the elite Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps in the country's volatile southeast.

"Pakistan is not involved in terrorist activities.... [W]e are striving to eradicate this menace," Foreign Ministry spokesman Abdul Basit told the "Daily Times" newspaper on October 18.

Basit was not available for comment on October 19.

Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani strongly condemned the "ghastly act of terrorism" in predominantly Shi'ite Iran, Gilani's office said.

Pakistan has in the past backed Sunni Muslim militant groups, particularly in Afghanistan in the 1980s, when it supported militants battling Soviet occupiers.

Pakistan also supported militants who have been battling Indian security forces in the disputed Kashmir region.

Both Afghanistan and India say Pakistan has maintained links to some militant groups.

Iran's President Mahmud Ahmadinejad was quoted as saying security agents in Pakistan were cooperating with the militants behind the October 18 bombing, the semiofficial Fars news agency reported.

"We were informed that some security agents in Pakistan are cooperating with the main elements of this terrorist incident.... We regard it as our right to demand these criminals from them," Ahmadinejad said, without giving details.

'Leader Not In Pakistan'

Ahmadinejad called on Pakistan not to waste time in cooperating with Iran in apprehending the perpetrators.

Relations between Iran and Pakistan have been generally good in recent years and the neighbors are cooperating on plans to build a natural-gas pipeline link.

But Iran has in the past accused Pakistan of hosting members of the Sunni insurgent group Jundallah, or God's Soldiers, Iranian state television said. Iranian media say Sunni insurgent group Jundallah claimed responsibility for the bombing.

Some analysts believe Jundallah has evolved through shifting alliances with various parties, including the Taliban and Pakistan's main ISI intelligence service, who saw the group as a tool against Iran.

State television said Iran's Foreign Ministry summoned a senior Pakistani diplomat in Tehran, saying there was evidence "the perpetrators of this attack came to Iran from Pakistan".

"The Pakistani official assured Tehran that his country would take all measures to secure its border with Iran," English-language Press TV added.

Pakistan's Interior Minister Rehman Malik spoke to his Iranian counterpart late on October 18 and told him that Jundallah chief, Abdolmalek Rigi, was not in Pakistan.

Malik also gave an assurance of cooperation in fighting terrorism.

"Pakistan will continue to cooperate with Iranian brothers," Malik's office quoting him as saying.

Rigi is linked by some analysts to the Taliban in Pakistan.