Iranian forces clash with Kurdish separatists, killing 5

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) " Iranian security forces have clashed with Kurdish separatists who infiltrated a northwestern village, killing five insurgents, according to the country's powerful Revolutionary Guard.

The Guard's website said five "terrorists," including two "leaders," were killed in the fighting in the West Azerbaijan province, near the Iraqi border, and that a "chase operation to destroy other terrorists is underway." It said no Iranian forces were wounded in the clashes, and that they confiscated large amounts of weapons and ammunition.

The Kurdish group could not immediately be reached for comment.

The Guard clashed with Kurdish insurgents in West Azerbaijan earlier this month. The Guard said it killed 12 insurgents while three of its members died. The Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan said the Kurds killed over a dozen Guard members, including a colonel.

Iran faces threats from several militant groups, ranging from Sunni Arabs in its southern, oil-rich region, Kurds in its northwest and Baluch separatists on its eastern border with Pakistan.

Attacks are rarely publicized in Iran, but last week authorities announced that they had broken up one of the "biggest terrorist plots" ever on Iranian soil by Sunni extremists.

Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alavi was later quoted by the semi-official ISNA news agency as saying that 10 suspects had been arrested in connection to the plot, which was to involve 50 bombings in the capital.

Earlier this month, police killed five members of the Sunni Jaish al-Adl militant group and lost one of their own during clashes in in the southeastern Sistan-Baluchistan province, near the Pakistani border. Security forces have also clashed with drug traffickers in the province, which is on a major smuggling route for Afghan opium and heroin.

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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