US attacks Houthis as Middle East tensions rise: Live updates from Israel-Hamas war

In an expansion of hostilities sweeping the region as the war between Israel and Hamas continues, Pakistan said on Thursday it had carried out attacks inside Iran, a day after Iranian forces attacked what they said were militant camps in Pakistan.

Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry said the country’s forces had carried out “precision military strikes” against what it called terrorist hideouts in southeastern Iran. Iran’s state television network Press TV said seven foreigners were killed in the attacks.

A senior Pakistani security official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Pakistan had attacked at least seven locations used by separatists from the Baluch ethnic group about 30 kilometers inside the border. The official said fighter jets and air force drones were used in the Pakistani retaliation strikes.

A day earlier, Iran carried out an airstrike in Pakistan’s Balochistan province. The Iranian government later said that the attack in Pakistan, as well as attacks it carried out this week in Iraq and Syria, demonstrated that Iran would respond forcefully to its enemies anywhere.

An emboldened Iran has been using its allied forces against Israel and its allies since the war in Gaza began in October. Those actions, and now Iran’s own attacks on other countries in the region, have increased the risk of growing turmoil gripping the Middle East. Iran has been trying to project strength after recent attacks within its borders made it appear vulnerable.

Pakistan, which is grappling with political and economic problems, indicated on Thursday that it did not want a further escalation in its confrontation with Iran. In a statement, the Pakistani military called the two neighbors “brotherly countries” and said “dialogue and cooperation are considered prudent to resolve bilateral issues” between them.

Syed Muhammad Ali, an Islamabad-based security analyst, said in an interview that Pakistan could not have left Iran’s attack unanswered.

“A calculated and timely response was necessary to disprove the Iranian misperception that a surprise and unprovoked military attack on Pakistan will not produce a strong but calibrated and rapid response,” he said.

He added that both sides had strong incentives to let tensions cool now that Pakistan had responded, “as both countries will gain nothing from any further exchange or military escalation.”

In carefully crafted statements issued Thursday, Pakistani officials refrained from directly accusing Iran. Pakistan’s narrative mirrored Iran’s logic for its own attacks, saying that Pakistani actions similarly targeted only those separatists who had taken refuge across the border.

Pakistani military analysts were hopeful that this could pave the way for diplomatic dialogue between the two nations. Waqar Hasan, a retired army brigadier based in Islamabad, highlighted the precision and care with which Pakistan had carried out its attacks inside Iran. “Pakistan and Iran need to move forward,” he said. “I think the situation can improve now.”

After Iran’s attack on Pakistan, Iranian officials said the attack had targeted militants threatening Iran, but Pakistani authorities rejected that account, citing what they said were civilian casualties of the attack.

Pakistan denounced the Iranian attack as a flagrant violation of international law and warned Wednesday that it “reserves the right to respond.”

Pakistan has long maintained that Baloch separatists, who have waged a low-level insurgency in Pakistan’s southwestern Balochistan province for decades, have hideouts across the border from Iran. Iran also accused Pakistan of not doing enough to contain militants who have attacked Iranian security.

On Thursday, after the Pakistani attack inside Iran, channels on the Telegram messaging app run by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps showed images of debris from residential areas near the border with Pakistan. The official News Agency of the Islamic Republic of Iran confirmed that multiple explosions had occurred in the border area.