Iranian authorities hanged 16 suspected rebels Saturday in retaliation for the deaths of 17 border guards in an armed clash outside the southeastern city of Saravan.

"This morning, we hanged 16 (previously jailed) rebels in response to the terrorist act carried out last night in Saravan," Mohammed Marzie - district attorney of the city of Zahedan, capital of the province of Sistan and Baluchestan - was quoted as saying by the Isna student news agency.

"We had already warned the rebels and enemy groups of the regime that, if they did anything to harm innocent people or security agents or the police, we would act in kind (by executing jailed rebels)," Marzie added, according to Iranian news agency Fars.

A total of 17 border guards were killed, five were wounded and four were captured in Friday night's ambush outside Saravan, near the border with Pakistan, unidentified local officials told that news agency.

Thus far, no organization has claimed responsibility for the attack.

The armed Sunni rebel group Jundallah (Soldiers of God), which Tehran regards as a terrorist organization, is active in Sistan and Baluchestan though Iranian authorities say they have dismantled the bulk of its structure.

Iranian authorities arrested Jundallah's leader, Abdul-Malek Rigi, in June 2010 and subsequently tried and executed him.

Armed gangs that smuggle weapons and drugs from Afghanistan, the world's largest opium producer, also are active in Sistan and Baluchestan and frequently clash with Iranian security forces. EFE