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Iran denounces Afghan protest at Herat consulate

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Iran denounced Sunday a protest outside its Herat consulate in which one person was reportedly killed and demanding more security for its diplomatic missions in neighbouring Afghanistan.

"Police and security forces should have been at the scene quickly to prevent the illegal gathering, the damaging of the mission and disruption of the staff's work," foreign ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham said in a statement carried by the official IRNA news agency.

"It goes without saying that such behaviours... have negative consequences," she added.

At last one person was killed and four wounded on Saturday when angry demonstrators tried to storm the Iranian consulate in the western Afghan city of Herat in a protest over visas, Afghan officials said.

The Afghan ambassador Nasir Ahmad Noor was summoned to the foreign ministry in Tehran on Saturday and told his country should step up security "to prevent similar incidents", Afkham said.

Abdul Rashid, a wounded demonstrator, told AFP in Herat Saturday that they were protesting because the Iranian consulate would not extend their Iranian visas nor return their cash deposit.

He said Afghans who applied for an Iranian visa had to deposit at least $400 with the consulate.

Thousands of Afghans cross illegally into Iran every year to seek work as Afghanistan's economy struggles to grow amid an Islamist insurgency that erupted after the 2001 fall of the Taliban.

In May, Iranian guards shot dead 10 Afghan migrants illegally trying to cross the border from the western province of Herat.

About 2.4 million Afghans -- including 840,000 registered refugees according to UNHCR figures -- live in Iran, many of whom moved there after the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130908/iran-denounces-afghan-protest-at-herat-consulate