27 Revolutionary Guard members killed in Iran bombing, state media say
Iranian media blame al-Qaeda-linked Sunni militant group for the attack
A suicide bomber targeting a bus carrying personnel of Iran's elite paramilitary Revolutionary Guard force killed at least 27 people and wounded 20 in the country's southeast, state media reported.
The Sunni group Jaish al-Adl (Army of Justice), which says it seeks greater rights and better living conditions for the ethnic minority Baluchis, claimed responsibility for the attack, the semi-official Fars news agency reported.
The attack came on the day of a U.S.-led conference in Warsaw that included discussions on what America describes as Iran's malign influence across the wider Midle East.
The state-run IRNA news agency, citing what it described as an "informed source," reported the attack on the guard in Iran's Sistan and Baluchistan province.
The province, which lies on a major opium trafficking route, has seen occasional clashes between Iranian forces and Baluch separatists, as well as drug traffickers.
The guard is a major economic and military power in Iran, answerable only to the country's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
The heavy losses among Iran's premier military force prompted a senior Revolutionary Guards commander to issue a warning to the country's foes.
"Our response in defence of the Islamic Revolution will not be limited to our borders," Ali Fadavi was quoted as saying by Fars.
"The enemies will receive a very firm response from the Revolutionary Guards like before." He did not specify which enemies or what actions Tehran would take.
While Iran has been enmeshed in the wars engulfing Syria and neighbouring Iraq, it largely has avoided the bloodshed plaguing the region. In 2009, more than 40 people, including six guard commanders, were killed in a suicide attack by Sunni extremists in Sistan and Baluchistan province.
A co-ordinated ISIS assault on parliament and the shrine of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution. At least 18 people were killed and more than 50 wounded.
And most recently, an attack on a military parade in September in Iran's oil-rich southwest killed over 20 and wounded over 60.
With files from Reuters