Thirteen people were killed, including three policemen, after Iran launched a week-long "clean-up" operation in the drug-troubled eastern province of Khorassan, state radio said Tuesday.
Six hostages who had been taken by bandits and drug smugglers in the area were freed in the operation, which left several other people wounded and led to 11 arrests, it said.
The report comes just a day after the announcement that eight soldiers had been taken hostage and a ninth killed in clashes with around 40 armed bandits in the province's Esfarayen region.
The military reportedly dispatched a sizable force to gain their release.
The army has been deploying a mobile battalion in Iran's eastern areas to combat the wave of drug smugglers crossing from neighbouring Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Iran regularly blames the Taliban militia which now controls most of Afghanistan for the region's heavy drug trade.
Iran is a major transshipment point for drugs headed to markets in the Gulf, central Asia and Europe -- TEHRAN (AFP)
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