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Afghans protest after videos allegedly show Iranians beating refugees

Afghan protesters shout slogans during a demonstration against the alleged published reports of harassment of Afghan refugees in Iran, outside of the Iranian consulate in Herat on April 11, 2022
— Herat (Afghanistan) (AFP)

Dozens of Afghans chanting "Death to Iran" protested Monday outside Tehran's consulate in the western city of Herat after videos allegedly showing Afghan refugees being beaten by Iranians went viral over the weekend.

Iran, which hosts more than five million Afghan refugees, has seen a fresh influx of Afghans entering the country since the Taliban stormed back to power last August.

But on Monday, angry Afghans staged protests in Herat and some other cities against Tehran after videos showing alleged Iranian border guards and Iranian mobs beating Afghan refugees in Iran circulated on social media networks over the weekend, though it was unclear when the images were filmed.

One video seemed to show Iranian border guards beating Afghan refugees in a room, while other footage appeared to show a group of Iranians dragging and beating refugees in a compound in Iran.

The authenticity of these videos could not be independently verified.

"Death to Iran! Iran is a killer state!" chanted protesters as they gathered outside the Iranian consulate in Herat, an AFP correspondent reported.

Protesters burnt the Iranian flag and broke CCTV cameras installed at the consulate before dispersing.

"Where are the human rights organisations? They are beating our people... but nobody is raising a voice," said Shakib, a protester in Herat.

Hours after Monday's protest in Herat, Iran's foreign ministry in a statement on its website called on the Taliban authorities to provide "the necessary guarantees for the safe operation of these missions" in Afghanistan.

The Iranian embassy in Kabul on Sunday had dismissed the beating videos, saying they were "baseless and invalid" and aimed at harming the historical relations between the two countries.

It further said that Iran's border forces had the authority to prevent any foreigner from illegally entering the country.

On Monday, a similar anti-Iran protest was held in the southeastern city of Khost, and a demonstration was staged outside the Iranian embassy in Kabul.

Since the Taliban seized power, Afghanistan has plunged further into economic crisis, pushing even those without links to the former Western-backed government to scramble for an exit.

Thousands of people daily try to cross into neighbouring Iran in search of work, or in a bid to reach Europe in the hope of asylum.

Iran, which shares a 900-kilometre (550-mile) border with Afghanistan, has so far not recognised the Taliban government.

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