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Saturday, August 15, 1998 Published at 16:52 GMT 17:52 UK

World: Middle East

Ayatollah calls for protection of Afghan Shiites

One of the most senior religious figures in Iran, Grand Ayatollah Fazel Lankarani has called on the Iranian government to do its utmost to protect Shiite muslims in Afghanistan.

Mr Lankarani condemned what he described as the killing of Shiites by Taleban forces.

The Afghan opposition and Russia have also alleged that there have been killings of the Taleban's opponents in Mazar-e-Sharif since the Taleban took the city recently.

However, there has been no independent confirmation of this.

The Taleban themselves have denied that their troops have been involved in killings in the aftermath of recent battles.

From the newsroom of the BBC World Service

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