Terrorism & Insurgency

SVBIED attack near Iran’s Chabahar port reflects militants’ targeting of strategic locations, but disruption to cargo unlikely

14 December 2018

The scene following a suicide car bombing in front of the police headquarters in Chabahar, southeastern Iran, on 6 December. Source: STR/AFP/Getty Images

Key Points

  • Although primarily motivated by local ethno-religious grievances, the insurgency in Sistan-Baluchestan province is increasingly presenting as part of the broader transnational militant Islamist movement.
  • Increased communications and co-ordination between locally based insurgent groups and the Islamic State would indicate more sophisticated attacks targeting marine and energy assets, as well as mass-fatality attacks in Iran's major cities.
  • Chabahar's strategic and economic importance as a deep-water port city means that it will almost certainly remain a priority target for Baluch and Islamist militant groups.


A suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (SVBIED) attack on 6 December targeted the police headquarters in Chabahar in Iran's Sistan-Baluchestan province, killing two police officers; Iran's chief of police, Brigadier-General Hossein Ashtari, announced on 9 December that 10 suspects had been arrested in connection with the attack.

Two police officers were killed and 48 others were wounded when an unidentified militant driving an SVBIED attempted to force his way into the police headquarters in the city of Chabahar, in Iran's southeastern Sistan-Baluchestan province, on 6 December. While the SVBIED was intercepted by security forces, it was still detonated. Citing unspecified Iranian media, Agence France-Presse reported that immediately following the explosion a number of gunmen had attempted to storm the headquarters, before being killed by security forces. Iran's foreign minister, Javad Zarif, blamed foreign-backed actors for the attack, making specific reference to the United Arab Emirates in a tweet. Zarif had made similar claims of foreign involvement following a gun attack in Ahvaz, Khuzestan province, in September, which was claimed by the Islamic State.

The attack in Chabahar follows a number of recent militant incidents in the country, including the first Islamic State-claimed attack in Tehran in June 2017, followed by the attack in Ahvaz in September 2018. In July, an unclaimed attack near Marivan in the northwestern Kurdistan region targeted 10 members of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC).

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