Iranian forces have killed three Kurdish rebels, including a Turkish national, they say were behind the bombing of a pipeline carrying Iranian gas to Turkey, media reports said on Monday.
“After Friday’s explosion, law enforcement and security forces mobilised and this morning three people behind the blast were killed and four wounded,” the ISNA news agency quoted the governor of the city of Maku as saying.
“The head of the terrorist group, a Turkish national named Jamil, and two others were killed,” Hamid Ahmadian told ISNA.
An “informed source” told a state television website the rebels were members of PJAK (Party of Free Life of Kurdistan), an armed Iranian-Kurdish separatist group linked to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in Turkey.
Friday’s explosion near the Bazargan border crossing, in Iran’s West Azarbaijan province, damaged the gas pipeline and disrupted deliveries of Iranian gas for 24 hours.
In August 2010, an explosion on the same pipeline, blamed on separatist Kurdish rebels, caused a temporary stoppage of Iranian gas supplies to Turkey.
Iran, which has the world’s largest proven gas reserves after Russia, exports some 30 million cubic metres of gas to Turkey per day.
On July 16, the elite Revolutionary Guards launched a major offensive against PJAK bases in the northwest along the border between Iran and Iraq.
The Iranian forces say they killed more than 50 rebels and admit to having lost eight men in the fighting.
PJAK fighters often clash with Iranian forces, and their bases in the mountainous border regions of Iraqi Kurdistan from which they launch their attacks are bombed in retaliation.