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Iran police deny killing Afghan migrants

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Iranian police have denied killing a group of Afghans trying to cross the border illegally into the Islamic republic, local media reported Monday.

"We do not confirm this report," said Iran's deputy border commander Colonel Hamid Sharghi in remarks reported by the Aftab daily.

Sharghi said "no report on such operation" had been forwarded to his border control office and that the accounts were "false".

Afghanistan on Sunday summoned the Iranian ambassador to protest against the incident, in which Iranian guards allegedly shot dead 10 Afghan migrants as they tried to cross the border.

The migrants were killed overnight on Friday as a group of about 200 people attempted to enter Iran from Lash Wa Juwayn district in the far western province of Farah, according to Afghan officials.

"Firing at Afghan civilians who wanted to go to Iran for work is against religious, cultural and good neighbourly relations," a statement from the Afghan foreign ministry said.

Thousands of Afghans cross illegally into Iran every year to seek employment as Afghanistan's economy struggles to develop amid the Islamist insurgency that started after the 2001 fall of the Taliban.

About 2.4 million Afghans -- refugees and illegal immigrants -- live in Iran, many of whom moved after the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

In December, Afghan demonstrators tried to storm the Iranian consulate in Herat in protest at the alleged killing of migrants by Iranian security forces.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130513/iran-police-deny-killing-afghan-migrants