Le Pays De France - Afghans protest against Iranian 'cruelties' in Taliban-approved demo

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Afghans protest against Iranian 'cruelties' in Taliban-approved demo
Afghans protest against Iranian 'cruelties' in Taliban-approved demo / Photo: © AFP

Afghans protest against Iranian 'cruelties' in Taliban-approved demo

Dozens of Afghans protested Tuesday against Iranian "cruelties" after videos appearing to show refugees being beaten circulated widely over the weekend.

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Tehran announced the closure until further notice of its Afghan missions "in order to obtain necessary assurances guaranteeing total security", its foreign ministry said.

Iran has hosted millions of Afghan refugees for decades, but fresh waves have flooded the country since the Taliban returned to power in August, testing the patience of authorities and ordinary people.

On Tuesday around 200 Afghans gathered at a square in central Kabul, carrying posters reading "Iran should stop its cruelties" and "We want justice".

Public demonstrations have been banned by the Taliban, but they allowed it to proceed with armed guards watching.

"The Iranian security forces and even common people there have been treating us badly these days," said protester Manzoor Ahmad Farooqi, recently returned from Iran.

"When their police see us they pin us to the ground and beat us."

Tuesday's protest came after videos circulated at the weekend purporting to show Iranian border guards and civilians beating Afghans, although it was unclear when and where the images were filmed.

Iranian officials have dismissed the videos as "baseless and invalid".

Protests first erupted Monday in Herat, the western city that serves as a launchpad for Afghans wanting to cross to Iran -- officially and illegally.

Protesters set fire to an Iranian flag outside Tehran's consulate in the city, and smashed CCTV cameras.

A statement on Iran's foreign ministry website said the embassy in Kabul had also been targeted.

The statement, issued Tuesday, said the ministry summoned Afghanistan's charge d'affaires in Tehran "to vigorously protest the attacks on the Iranian embassy in Kabul and the consulate general in Herat".

Human trafficking is big business along their shared 900-kilometre (550-mile) border.

The two nations also have the Persian language in common -- known as Farsi in Iran and Dari in Afghanistan -- but a majority of Afghans are Sunni Muslims compared to their mostly Shiite neighbours.

Iran has long had testy relations with the Taliban, who raided Tehran's consulate in the northern Afghan city of Mazar-i-Sharif in 1998 and murdered 10 diplomats and a journalist.

The Taliban said the raid was carried out by a renegade force acting against orders.