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Friday, 4 May, 2001, 14:46 GMT 15:46 UK
Eight dead in Afghan blast
Fighters from the opposition Northern Alliance
The Northern Alliance is fighting the ruling Taleban
At least eight people have died in a bomb blast outside a mosque in Afghanistan, according to a report from neighbouring Pakistan.


The Pakistan-based Afghan Islamic Press (AIP) news service said an exiled Iranian Islamic scholar was among those killed in the blast in the western city of Herat.

It quoted Herat province governor Maulvi Khairullah Khairkhwa as saying the explosion also injured some 30 people.

Mr Khairkhwa, who blamed Iran for the blast, said it was aimed at exiled Sunni leader Maulvi Mohammad Musa, who died in the explosion.

He said protesters later set fire to the Iranian consulate and five worship places of belonging to the minority Shi'ite sect.

Regional tension

Herat, near the Iranian border, is home to a vast camp for refugees fleeing the continued fighting between the ruling Taleban movement and their opponents in the Northern Alliance.

About 80,000 refugees now live around Herat, and the UN says 1,500 desperate people arrive at the camp each day.

Relations between Afghanistan and Iran have long been strained.

Shi'ite Iran has been a strong backer of the Shi'a minority in Afghanistan, largely confined to the Hazara ethnic group in the central province of Bamiyan.

The Taleban, by contrast, are Sunni Muslims.

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See also:

30 Jan 01 | South Asia
Concern grows for Herat refugees
29 Nov 00 | South Asia
Urgent UN appeal for Afghanistan
01 Jul 00 | Middle East
Iran appeals on behalf of Afghanistan
21 Oct 98 | South Asia
UN envoy eases Iran Afghan tensions
14 Aug 98 | South Asia
Afghanistan and its neighbours
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